How the Scam Works
Medicare and Social Security beneficiaries across the country report receiving calls from scam operators (frequently with foreign accents), who claim to represent Medicare, Social Security, or an insurance company. These callers claim that new Medicare, Social Security, supplemental insurance benefits cards are being issued or that the beneficiary’s file must be updated. The scam artist asks the citizen to verify or provide their personal banking information, which is then used to commit theft.
Callers involved in this crime ring may be extremely aggressive, calling over and over, and at all times of the day, in an attempt to wear down the potential victim. These criminals will say anything to try to gain a person’s trust. In some cases, the criminals may have already obtained some limited personal information about the citizen, such as his or her name, address, or even Social Security number, which the criminal then uses to try to make the call seem legitimate. In other cases, the callers may claim that they can improve the benefits. Do not believe these claims, and do not carry on a conversation with the caller. Instead, if you receive a call asking you to disclose your bank account or other financial information, hang up immediately. These are criminals, and by speaking with the callers, even to ask them to stop calling, they may be encouraged to continue calling your telephone number.
If you are a Medicare or Social Security beneficiary, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Social Security Administration do not call you to ask you to disclose financial information in order to get a new card. If you receive such a call, you should report it to these two agencies as follows:
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
7500 Security Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21244
Social Security Administration
Office of Public Inquiries
1100 West High Rise
6401 Security Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21235
These three tips should help you avoid falling victim to this scam:
- Remember, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Social Security Administration will not call you to update your information or give you a new card.
- If someone who calls you asks for your personal information, do not provide it.
- If calls persist, you may wish to speak to your phone company about calling features that would enable you to be selective in the calls that you accept or receive.
If you have already disclosed personal financial information to an unknown party, you may be at risk of identity theft. There are certain steps that you can take to further protect yourself including:
- Call the three major credit bureaus and place a one-call fraud alert on your credit report:
- Equifax: Call 800-525-6285, and write P.O. Box 105069, Atlanta, GA 30348-5069.
- Experian: Call 888-397-3742, and write P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013.
- TransUnion: Call 800-680-7289, and write Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790 Fullerton, CA 92834-6790.
- Consider placing a security freeze on your credit reports. In most instances, the freeze prohibits a credit reporting agency from releasing any information from your credit report without your written authorization. To place a security freeze on your credit report, you should send a written request to each of the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies by regular, certified or overnight mail at the addresses below:
Experian Security Freeze
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
Equifax Security Freeze
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348
TransUnion Security Freeze
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
- Order a free copy of your credit report and look for unauthorized activity. Many consumers first find out that they are victims of identity theft by discovering inaccuracies on their credit report. The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) allows consumers to obtain a free copy of their credit report each year from the three major credit bureaus as follows:
- Logging on to www.AnnualCreditReport.com;
- Calling: 877-322-8228; or
- Writing: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta GA 30348-5281
- Monitor your financial accounts for suspicious activity. Look carefully for unexplained activity on your bank and other financial statements. If you detect unexplained activity, you may want to contact the fraud department of your financial institution.
The Do Not Call Registry and Unwanted Calls
Many people are bombarded by unwanted telephone calls – even though they are on the Do Not Call Registry. The problem is difficult to stop because the scam artists increasingly use modern technology – including caller ID spoofing and throw-away cell phones – to conceal their identity and location and evade law enforcement.
When in Doubt, Don’t Give it Out
Scams and crooked deals are everywhere today, often where we least expect it. At every turn you can protect yourself by following one easy principle. If someone contacts you and claims to need your private information, think twice and remember: when in doubt, don’t give it out.
Gifts for Seniors Can Include Services
How to Notice There’s A Problem With Your Aging Parents
3 APPROACHES TO THE TOUGH CONVERSATION AND THE NECESSARY DOCUMENTS
ASSURING THAT SENIOR LOVED ONES ARE PREPARED
1. ALLOW THEM TO HAVE CONTROL
2. MAKE SURE TO CREATE A NEW TRUST RELATIONSHIP
3. GATHER THE INFORMATION EASILY
NECESSARY DOCUMENTS FOR ELDERCARE READINESS
BEGINNING THE ELDERCARE JOURNEY
The Carrabassett Valley network has a medical aid closet with items that can be loaned out for free. Contact Sugarloaf Christian Ministry for more info at 207-237-2304 or Gerry Baril at 207-235-3782
Here is the most recent list of items available.
Medical Aid Closet Inventory
Non-folding – w/o wheels 3 (1 loaned out)
Fold-up with large wheels 10 (1 loaned out)
Fold-up with small wheels 1
Child’s walker 1
Clip on basket 1
Vinyl storage bag for walker 1
Portable Toilet Chairs 2
Transfer Chairs 2 (1 loaned out)
Hospital Bed (electric) 1
With mattress, cushions, rails
Recliner (electric lift-assist) 1 (loaned out/Orchard Park Assisted Living)
French Cuffs 3
Metal (assorted sizes) 8
Ergo-Cooler & cuff 3
Athletic Knee Brace 2
To donate any gently used and serviceable items or inquire for available use, contact Sugarloaf Christian Ministry at 207-237-2304.
Elderly scams are the most common form of fraud. Sadly, scam artists relentlessly prey on seniors because they are easy targets; they tend to be gullible, live alone and usually do not have someone watching over their finances regularly. Even though senior fraud is more prevalent than ever, most cases are never reported for a multitude of reasons.
Learn more about how senior citizens lose billions, yet are fearful of reporting fraud.
Seniors Are Fearful of Reporting Fraud
Sadly many senior citizens are fearful of reporting fraud, even though they comprise 65% of fraud victims. Fraud can happen to wealthy seniors, and those of limited means; and most of them are embarrassed and don’t feel they have the resources to report the incident or try to get their money back.
In fact, even though an estimated $36 billion worth of financial exploitation a year towards seniors has been reported, according to a recent USA Today article, only one out of every 24 cases is reported. Sandy Markwood, CEO of the National Association of Area of Agencies on Aging says this is due to embarrassment, fear or lack of evidence. She notes,
“Seniors may be fearful that if they report they have been duped, somebody may say, ‘It is time for mom to move out of her house,’ and again, most older adults don’t want to move out of their house.”
Financial exploitation is the most frequently reported form of abuse against adults as one in five has been financially exploited, with the average victim losing $120,303, according to a study by the American Association of Retired Americans Bank Safe Initiative. Studies show con artists are more likely to target senior citizens than other age groups because they believe seniors are more susceptible to such scams.
The FTC reports that fraudulent telemarketers direct from 56-80% of their calls to seniors, making the need for senior fraud prevention greater than ever. There are ways to prevent senior fraud, though. Seniors, their families and their caregivers just need to be cognizant of how to avoid senior fraud.
Senior Fraud Prevention Tips
Education is king when it comes to avoiding fraud. Seniors are often vulnerable to cons and scammers for many reasons, including impaired judgment from cognitive impairment, financial ignorance and loneliness. Being aware of these scams can help you protect your elderly parents so that they do not fall victim to fraud and and can be spared not only heartache, but also financial duress.
Here are four ways seniors, their families and their caregivers can help protect the aging population from fraud:
1. Be aware that you are at risk from both strangers and those close to you.
Often times elder abuse is committed by the senior’s own family members as they are most familiar with their finances and personal information. Most often their adult children, followed by grandchildren, nieces and nephews, among others, according to the National Council on Aging. Tactics include the following:
- Depleting a joint checking account
- Forms of abuse
- Neglect of basic care needs
- Outright theft
- Promising but not delivering care in exchange for money or property
Strangers also prey on seniors because of their vulnerability, so it’s important to be aware of the most common scams targeting seniors.
2. Avoid isolation by staying involved.
Isolation is a huge risk for elder abuse as most family violence occurs behind closed doors. Many seniors withdraw from their communities for a number of reasons, including depression, lack of transportation or a physical disability. Many seniors are simply fearful of leaving the comfort of their own homes. Visit your local senior center to learn about transportation and social services available to seniors, or view the Eldercare Locator to find services that can help your elderly loved one stay active.
3. Be forthright with solicitors.
Always tell solicitors: “I never buy from (or give to) anyone who calls or visits me unannounced. Send me something in writing.” Seeing written material about the fundraiser or charity helps to both validate that it’s legitimate, as well as avoids seniors providing personal banking information from their credit cards or checks to solicitors. Of course neighborhood children you know who are selling Girl Scout cookies or school fundraising forms are different, so just be discerning and help to educate your elderly loved ones.
It’s also a good practice to obtain the following from a salesperson:
- Business identity
- Business license number
- Street address
- Telephone number
4. Shred all receipts with a credit card number.
Identity theft is a huge problem and shredding receipts and mail, such as bank and credit card statements, that have your credit card number is important. Monitor yours and your loved ones’ bank and credit card statements and never give out personal information over the phone to someone who initiates contact or seems suspicious.
5. Sign up for the “Do Not Call” list and remove yourself from mailing lists.
Visit “Do Not Call” to stop telemarketers from contacting you or your elderly loved one. Being careful with mail is also important. Do not let incoming mail sit in the mailbox for a long time, and when sending out sensitive mail, consider dropping it off at the post office. Regularly monitoring crediting ratings and /or incorrect information can also be helpful.
6. Use direct deposit.
Direct deposit is an easy way to ensure checks go directly into accounts and are protected so that you don’t need to worry about scammers or scrupulous loved ones who have been known to steal benefit checks out of mailboxes or even from seniors’ homes.
7. Never give banking, credit card, Medicare, social security or other personal info.
Misuse of Medicare dollars is one of the largest scams involving seniors. Common schemes include billing for services never delivered and selling unneeded devices or services to beneficiaries. Protect your Medicare number as you do your banking and social security numbers and do not allow anyone else to use it. Be wary of salespeople trying to sell you something they claim will be paid for by Medicare.
Review your Medicare statements to be sure you have in fact received the services billed, and report suspicious activities to 1-800-MEDICARE.
Stay Educated on the Latest Scams
Unfortunately, fraud against older Americans is a serious problem affecting thousands every year. Many senior centers are trying to educate the public about the growing problem by discussing signs of financial exploitation and equipping people with resources.
Many seniors grew up during a time when they trusted people. Mark Shea, director of York County Area Agency on Aging notes:
“The world is vastly different today. Scammers often acquire information about their victims by scouting neighborhoods and going through trash. Families should keep an open relationship with their loved ones and watch out for changes or anxiousness as these are all common signs there is a problem.”
If seniors don’t have a family to support them, educating themselves is also key. To stay on top of the very latest scams hitting seniors, sign up for scam alerts from the National Consumer Protection Bureau
Reprinted from A Place for Mom
Cancer Screening Timelines for Seniors
Take Action Against Cancer
“I cannot stress enough the importance of early detection and screening. Unfortunately, there has been a disturbing decline in annual screenings, and people need to by proactive about working with their insurance and Medicare to get the recommended screenings.”
Cancer Screenings for Men Age 65 or Older
Cancer Screenings for Women Age 65 or Older
Dealing with Dementia Behavior
Common Situation #1: Aggressive Speech or Actions
“As my mom’s disease progressed, so did the mood swings. She could be perfectly fine one moment, and the next she was yelling and getting physical. Often, it remained a mystery as to what prompted the outburst. For her caregivers, it was often getting dressed or bathing that provoked aggression.”
Common Situation #2: Confusion About Time or Place
“Often people are trying to go back to a place where they had more control in their lives.”
Common Situation #3: Poor Judgment or Cognitive Problems
“There came a time when I began to suspect my mom was having problems keeping financial records in order. At the time, she was living independently and was very adamant about remaining in her house. Any discussion to the contrary, or really any comment that eluded to the fact that she may be slipping, was met with either rage or tears. It was when she asked me to help with her taxes that I noticed the checking account was a mess.”