Scam of the day – July 27, 2014 – Senate holds hearings on the Grandparent scam

Recently the Senate Special Committee on Aging held a hearing on the infamous Grandparent scam, which occurs when a scammer calls an elderly person posing as their grandchild who has been involved in some sort of emergency and needs the grandparent to wire money to them right away.  One 81 year old witness at the hearing spoke about receiving a call late at night from someone purporting to be his grandson who needed bail money after being arrested on a drug charge.  In response to the call, the witness testified how he purchased a  $7,000 prepaid money card and then provided the money card information to the scammer who has never been heard from again.  It was only afterwards that the witness was able to reach his grandson on his cell phone to learn that the entire matter had been a scam.

The Senate Special Committee on Aging has in recent years focused much attention on scams preying upon older Americans, such as the Jamaican lottery scam, income tax scams, Social Security scams and Medicare fraud.

TIPS

Never wire money unless you are absolutely sure about to whom you are wiring the money and it is not a scam.  If a claim about a medical or legal emergency is made, contact the hospital or legal authorities in the area to confirm that the information is accurate.  Make sure that you have the cell phone numbers of your grandchild as well as  anyone with whom your child or grandchild is traveling so you can confirm any calls claiming that an emergency has arisen.  Call the child directly on his or her cell phone to confirm the story.  Students traveling abroad should register with the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program at https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/.  This program can help with communications in an emergency situation.

Scam of the day – October 14, 2012 – Medicare open enrollment scam

The annual Medicare open enrollment period will be starting tomorrow and continue until December 7th.  The open enrollment period is the only opportunity Medicare recipients have each year during which to change their Medicare D prescription drug plan.  Medicare D prescription drug plans often change their coverage within the year, yet the only time a senior can change his or her plan is during the open enrollment period to make sure that he or she is enrolled in the best plan for him or her.  Plans may change their formulary which is the list of covered drugs.  They also may change other terms of the plan including the amount of any deductible so it is important for Medcicare recipients to review their  plans each year and compare it against other plans to make sure that they have the best plan for them.  Scammers take advantage of the open enrollment period to contact Medicare recipients by email or phone purporting to be from a Medicare prescription drug provider.  The scammers then request personal information such as the senior’s Medicare number which is the same as his or her Social Security number.  Despite recomendations from the GAO and other agencies to no longer use Social Security numbers as Medicare numbers, Medicare continues to use Social Security numbers as the Medicare identification number putting Medicare recipients in greater danger of identity theft.  If a senior provides this number to the scammer, he or she will use that number to turn him or her into a victim of identity theft.

TIPS

Everyone should always zealously guard the privacy of their Social Security number and Medicare number.  It is a key to identity theft.  An identity thief armed with a Social Security number and name can easily establish credit in the name of the person from whom the identity thief steals the Social Security number.  Do not give out this information by phone or on the internet to someone who contacts you.  You should also be aware that Medicare rules prohibit real prescription drug providers from contacting anyone by unsolicited emails or telephone calls so if you receive such a communication, you can be sure that it is a scam.  For all the information you need to compare and choose a plan that is right for you, go to www.medicare.gov..

Scam of the day – August 25, 2012 – Latest Medicare scam

The latest scam involving Medicare going on around the country at this time involves the victim receiving a telephone call from someone purporting to be a representative of Medicare notifying the victim that new Medicare cards are being issued and that in order to maintain their Medicare coverage they need to confirm personal information of the victim such as their Social Security number or checking account number.  Many of these calls are coming from the area code 409, which is in Texas.  If the victim provides this information to the caller, he or she will soon become a victim of identity theft.

TIPS

Never give your personal information to anyone over the phone whom you have not called and are not absolutely sure is both legitimate and has a legitimate need for the information.  Medicare is not issuing new cards.  Medicare will not call you on the phone and Medicare already has the information that the identity thieves are requesting with the exception of your bank account number which they have absolutely no need to have.

Scam of the day – May 4, 2012 – Medicare Scams

As a part of a massive federal effort to reduce Medicare fraud, federal law enforcement authorities have arrested more than a hundred doctors and other health care professionals involved in Medicare scams that cost taxpayers an estimated 452 million dollars.  Medicare fraud which generally occurs when false or unnecessary medical treatments or equipment are billed for may not seem like they affect us individually, but they do.  Cooperating even unwittingly with Medicare scammers can lead to your identity theft as well as cost us all more money as taxpayers.

TIPS

Never give your personal information, particularly your Medicare card number (which coincidentally is your Social Security number) to anyone who contacts you uninvited  to sell you Medicare related products.  Be particularly wary of people who solicit you for “free” medical equipment.  Always check you Medicare and private insurance bills, sometimes called explanation of benefits to make sure that you ar not being charged for services that you did not receive.