Some Tips on Avoiding Elder Fraud
Author: Jean Fullerton
We recently presented a webinar on Elder Fraud - A replay of the webinar can be viewed here.
As we get older, we are susceptible to the same scams as younger people, in particular phishing emails trying to get you to click on malicious links that appear to be from familiar companies (UPS, Microsoft, …) or friends. Don’t do it. Contact the company directly, or call your friend to confirm the message before opening a link or a document.
There are other scams that more frequently target older people. One of the worst is a distressed fake phone call from a young relative in trouble and needing money. “I was just arrested for drunk driving and need bail money.” In this case, contact a family member first to confirm the situation, particularly if the caller pleads “Please don’t tell Mom”.
Another scam that affects older people more than young people could have a happy ending. You might get a message that you have an old forgotten account that the caller can recover for you, for a finder’s fee. Actually, there is a national database of abandoned accounts that you can search for free, and claim any account by contacting the state holding the funds. Just go to www.MissingMoney.com. Give it a try for yourself or older relatives – it’s fun.
The scam that is becoming a real problem because it is so lucrative is Medicare fraud. The thief steals your Medicare information and submits bogus charges, or worse, pretends to be you and receives expensive medical services that go on your medical history and may adversely affect your own health care. The Justice Department just charged 35 individuals, including 9 doctors, for a scheme that cost Medicare over $2 billion1. The thieves entice someone over 65 to provide their Medicare information to cover ‘free’ testing2, then use that information to submit bogus claims. To protect yourself, only give your Medicare information to your doctors’ office, never carry your Medicare cards unless going to the doctor, and review and shred any Medicare documents.
For more information, go to www.Eldercare.acl.gov, www.ConsumerFinance.gov, and www.OnGuardOnline.gov.