Beware of Potential Pandemic Scams

 Updated: April 30, 2020

  Tags: COVID-19Email Scam

scam-alert

How can you be sure you’re signing up for the real deal?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have watched the profession of respiratory care rise to the occasion in those surge cities in unimaginable conditions that most of us hope to never witness or play a vital role in as many of our colleagues have in pandemic cities.

For those not in those surge cities, we rely on various outlets for our insight onto what those hospitals and teams are dealing with on a daily basis. For many, that outlet for information has become social media.

For better or worse, social media has become an essential part of many people’s lives. It lets people share photos with family members, catch up with old friends, and get the insights into current events and daily news. Despite these positives, social media also has some inherent risks: it has become a means used by scam artists to take advantage of well-meaning people. This current pandemic is no different for our profession as we witness the positives and the negatives.

For many of us, we enter healthcare and the profession to take care of the critically-ill in our cities and local communities. Healthcare does not bring those involved fame or riches, not do the vast majority of us seek or need that for a validation of our chosen profession.

If it sounds too good to be true…

Healthcare travel and staffing agencies have been around for quite some time. And by-and-large they have provided positive experiences for both those seeking help and those looking to provide their skills and expertise. But we have witnessed an onslaught of posts on social media since the beginning of the pandemic that often sound too good to be true in what they are paying or providing for healthcare professionals.

AARC has been approached by many agencies to “post their positions” on our website and social media platforms over the last 6-8 weeks. We have also witness hundreds of these on other social media outlets as well. While some have been legitimate, others have been more similar to the lawyer from another country that is offering you the opportunity of a lifetime and financial rewards.

This has led to many signing contracts that never existed with hospitals, being asked to book travel and accommodations, pay that is 3-4 times what one can make in a typical week and most recently, the ability to work in prestigious facilities as a “ventilator technician”.

Trust but verify

The old adage is if it sounds too good to be true, it more than likely is a scam. Scam artists in 2020 have become much more sophisticated in their research and messaging. We see this annually with companies that offer package deals to attend AARC Congress or sell our members contact information. And now, to race off to a pandemic city to assist in the battle against COVID-19.

No more than you would wire money to another person from an email or phone call, you should be careful with determining the legitimacy of the offers to you as a respiratory therapists to travel to another city or state to assist a hospital in this crisis. Always verify the legitimacy of the company or agency you are working with through a means over than email or social media. Validate the company through on-line sources or in that city or state’s better business bureau. Reach out to those “hospitals in need of ventilator technicians” to validate the opportunity.

This is not to say that all or most healthcare travel or staffing agencies are malicious or scammers, but one must use their head and not their hearts in these historical times. Trust but verify any offer that sounds too good to be true is legitimate.