The AARP Fraud Watch Network says scammers are using AARP’s name to falsely notify older people by email or phone that they’ve won a big sweepstakes prize.
“AARP does not participate in sweepstakes or lotteries like this,” says AARP Foundation fraud expert Amy Nofziger. “They’re doing this under the AARP brand to offer more credibility to the older adult.”
According to the FTC, lottery and sweepstakes scams are among the most common types of fraud. Typically, individuals are asked to turn over a specific lump sum or financial information such as banking details in order to receive their winnings.
According to Nofziger, that request for money or information is a red flag. “You never have to prepay for any lottery or sweepstakes,” she says, which is true of legitimate winnings from groups such as Publishers Clearing House.
Nofziger says it’s best to avoid contact with anyone claiming that you’ve won money from AARP. “Do not call the phone number, do not have any communications with these people,” Nofziger says. “This is 100 percent a scam.”
In general, Nofziger says, it’s important to ask yourself certain questions if you receive offers of money or other prizes. For instance: Are you being asked to provide advance payment or banking details? Did you enter the sweepstakes or contest in the first place?
For guidance or to report a suspected scam, call the AARP Fraud Watch Helpline (877-908-3360).
Older people and their families will have free access to 40+ sources of senior information Thursday, October 4, 2018 from 9 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn, 5 Park Street in Freeport, during a fall senior expo.
The Expo, hosted by Maine Senior Guide, will feature exhibitors including senior living communities, home care and home health options, downsizing, travel planning and insurance options. Speakers talk as part of the Successful Aging Forum from 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. in the Old Town Hall adjacent to the expo hall. Keynote speaker Dr. Marilyn Gugliucci will close the expo at 2 p.m. with her talk, AGE: Attitude, Grace + Energy. Dr. Gugliucci points out how we’ve been co-opted in to a negative view of aging and how we can work against that to create vibrant lives as we age. Her talk includes light refreshments.
There will be free flu shots by CHANS, antique appraisals by Daniel Buck, and a Zumba Gold demos.
Attendees can place their name in the drawing for two door prizes. The grand prize is a night for two at the Hilton Garden Inn, movie tickets and a gift card to a local restaurant. The second door prize is round-trip tickets for two on the Amtrak Downeaster. Speakers include Salvation Army, which will hold a legacy planning seminar at noon that includes a light lunch for the first 10 people.
The expo is sponsored in part by Salvation Army, MidCoast-Parkview Health, Spectrum Healthcare Partners and Maine Senior Guide. Media sponsors include the Forecaster and Maine Seniors magazine. Expo admission is free and there is plenty of free parking. There is no registration required.
For more info about the Fall Senior Expo, visit www.maineSeniorGuide.comor contact Maine Senior Guide at 207-232-7847 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
CENTERS FOR MEDICARE & MEDICAID SERVICES VIA AP
If you live in the first group of states whose new Medicare cards have been mailed, but you haven’t received yours, federal officials offer instructions you can follow to track down your card.
The mailing has been completed in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia; residents there who have not received their card should log on to their mymedicare.gov account. If your card has been mailed, you’ll be able to see your new Medicare number or print an official copy of your card. If that doesn’t work, call the Medicare hotline at 800-633-4227. Officials there can tell you whether there might be a problem, such as a wrong mailing address. In the meantime, you can continue to use your old Medicare card.
You can also find out when your card is being mailed on a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) web page that includes a map that tracks the progress of the mailing in each state and has a list of when enrollees in each state will start receiving their cards. The page invites beneficiaries to sign up for an email that CMS will send once their ID cards have been mailed.
Cards are now in the mail to beneficiaries in Alaska, American Samoa, Arkansas, California, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
New Medicare members will receive the new version of the card as soon as they sign up, regardless of what state they live in. The ID, which has been redesigned to prevent fraud, is still red, white and blue, but instead of a Social Security number, the identifier is an 11-character, randomly assigned number that has no connection to an enrollee’s personal information.
It will take until April 2019 for all 60 million beneficiaries to get their new identification cards. You can begin using your card as soon as it arrives.
All charity scams are deplorable, but those pretending to raise funds to support our nation’s veterans are particularly shameful. Last week, the Federal Trade Commission, along with state charities regulators, announced a major takedown of fake veteran charities. .
Let’s hope these actions put a big dent in these scams, but chances are more will pop up. Here’s what you should know.
How It Works:
- Fake charities use the same techniques as trusted charities to reach you—in person, by mail, over the phone, online, by text, or by e-mail—so be mindful across all of these methods.
- The name of the fake veteran charity may closely resemble the name of a real charity.
- The fake charity might ask you to wire money, donate by gift card or give cash—see this as a red flag.
What You Should Know:
- Real veteran charities need your support, and they, like us, lose out when a scammer steals our donation and diverts resources away from legitimate organizations.
- Scammers will put pressure on you to act quickly, before you have a chance to think through your decision or do any research.
What You Should Do:
- When you do donate to a charity, use a check or credit card and keep records.
- If you are approached in person, ask for identification and details about the charity, including its full name and address, and how they will use the funds. If the person cannot furnish this information, close your door or walk away.
- Easily check out a charity before you give money to one. See how at www.ftc.gov/charity.
“We’ve been hearing a lot about it lately,” Emma Fletcher of the FTC’s Division of Consumer and Business Education wrote in an online consumer advisory.
“Here’s how it starts. You get a check in the mail with a job offer as a secret shopper. You deposit the check and see the funds in your account a few days later, and the bank even tells you the check has cleared.
“Now you’re off to the store you’ve been asked to shop at and report back on, often a Walmart. Your first assignment is to test the in-store money transfer service, like Western Union or MoneyGram, by sending some of the money you deposited. Or you might be told to use the money to buy reloadable cards or gift cards, such as iTunes cards. You’re instructed to send pictures of the cards or to give the numbers on the cards.
“Fast-forward days or weeks to the unhappy ending. The bank finds out the check you deposited is a fake, which means you’re on the hook for all that money.
Banks make money available from deposited checks in a few days, but a fake check can take weeks to be discovered. “By the time you try to get the money back from the money transfer service, the scammers are long gone, and they’ve taken all the money off the gift cards, too,” Fletcher advised.
The lesson: “If anyone ever asks you to deposit a check and then wire or send money in any way, you can bet it’s a scam.”
Reprinted from AARP
5 Key Ways to Lose Weight After 50
Why it gets harder to drop pounds after a certain age — and how to do it successfully
by Hallie Levine, AARP, May 9, 2018
There’s plenty you can do to take control of your weight as you get older.
Whether you’ve battled the bulge for what seems like forever — or just since your last birthday — it’s true that age can have a lot to do with the number on the scale. As with crow’s-feet and varicose veins, you’re simply more susceptible to gaining weight once you hit the big 5-0. And it’s not your imagination: It also becomes increasingly more challenging to shed those pounds once they’ve settled around your hips.
“The two big reasons people tend to gain weight as they get older are loss of muscle mass and decreased activity,” explains Caroline Apovian, M.D., a weight-loss specialist at Boston University Medical Center. People experience a 5 to 10 percent loss of muscle mass each decade after age 50, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. As a result, your resting metabolic rate declines by an average of 2 to 3 percent every decade.
And this means you can be eating the exact same amount that you did at 40 — not a morsel more — and still gain weight.
Becoming more sedentary with age can also skew the equation, especially if you begin to develop arthritis or other joint issues that restrict activity. “As we get older, we spend less time running around and physical activity decreases,” Apovian points out. “But as you get older, if you don’t use your muscles, you’ll lose them.”
And while these facts are sobering, there’s plenty you can do to take control. “You’re not doomed to failure! I’m 60, and I have more muscle on my body than I did when I was 30,” Apovian says with pride.
It’s true that few of us may have the time or energy to follow Apovian’s grueling workout schedule (she rises at 5 a.m. most days to either swim for an hour or run six miles on her treadmill), but we can follow her advice, as well as that of other leading obesity specialists, on how to fit into our jeans once we enter our sixth decade and beyond.
Pile on the protein
“Protein supplementation can help build back muscle mass, which reverses the decline in metabolism,” explains Apovian. She recommends making sure that between 30 and 40 percent of your daily calories come from protein, depending on your body weight. (Imagine a lean piece of meat or fish taking up one third of your plate, and you get the idea.) By contrast, the average American gets about 16 percent of his or her food intake from protein, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
You’ll also build more muscle if you spread your protein intake out evenly throughout the day. A 2017 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consuming an equal amount of protein at all three meals is linked to more muscle strength in people over age 67. To even out your intake, try adding an egg or yogurt to your breakfast, a glass of milk or a handful of nuts to your lunch, and scaling back on your protein source at dinner.
Join the resistance
While any sort of exercise can help you shed girth, it’s very important that you lift weights at least twice a week to build muscle mass, which will help you lose weight. In one study, 60-something overweight adults who pumped iron lost more weight and lost less muscle mass over 18 months than those who just hoofed it for exercise. “Any sort of opportunity to build muscle — even if it’s just working with light resistance bands or swimming in a pool — will raise your metabolism and, thus, help you burn calories,” explains Reshmi Srinath, M.D., an endocrinologist and obesity specialist at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.
And keep in mind that you don’t have to do much to see results. People who lifted weights just twice a week gained about three pounds of muscle after 10 weeks, according to a review published in Current Sports Medicine Reports.
Beyond strength training, if you can take your overall exercise program up a notch, do so. Older adults who did high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which entails short spurts of high-intensity exercise, not only lost weight but also had less DNA damage to muscle cells. And this helped trigger growth of new muscle.
Get enough shut-eye
“Research has consistently shown that people who are overweight or obese get less sleep than those of normal weight,” stresses Apovian. “When you’re sleep deprived, your body ramps up its production of hormones that increase hunger, like the stress hormone cortisol and the appetite stimulating hormone ghrelin.” Older men (over age 67) who get less than five hours of sleep a night are almost four times as likely to be obese as those who get between seven and eight, and older women are more than twice as likely, according to a Case Western Reserve University study.
It’s also a good idea to keep your sleep schedule consistent, meaning you get up and go to bed at roughly the same time every day. Older men and women who don’t follow this healthy habit add another risk factor for being obese into the mix, according to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity.
Try occasional fasting
We’re not talking juice cleanses. Rather, research now shows that a specific type of intermittent fasting, known as fasting-mimicking, can trigger weight loss as well as improve your overall health. People who followed this type of diet plan — where they consumed only 750 to 1,000 calories five days out of each month but otherwise ate normally — lost, on average, six pounds, shed one to two inches of their waistline, and saw both their blood pressure and levels of IGF-1 (a substance linked to increased cancer risk) drop significantly, according to a University of Southern California study published last year.
How might it work? “When you gain weight, the nerves in your hypothalamus that conduct signals from your fat cells to the rest of your brain become damaged,” says Louis Aronne, M.D., director of the Center for Weight Management and Metabolic Clinical Research at Weill Cornell Medical College. “As a result, your brain doesn’t realize that you’re full, so it keeps signaling you to eat.”
But when you take a day to not eat very much, he says, “you’re reducing stress on your hypothalamic nerves, so it gives them time to recuperate.” That day of rest for your nerves could be especially important for older people, he says, because of the damage that oxidative stress can further do to your weight-regulating system.
As for how to start, “I tell patients who want to try it to eat only about 800 calories twice a week, focusing mainly on vegetables, protein and healthy oils such as olive oil,” he says.
To help yourself feel fuller longer on days you’re not fasting, Aronne recommends following a low-carb diet in which about 30 percent of your calories come from protein and the rest from nonstarchy veggies, nuts and beans. Craving bread? “I tell patients that the best time to eat these types of starchy carbohydrates is at the very end of the meal, after they’ve had their veggies and protein,” he says. Aronne’s research shows that people who eat this way not only have lower levels of blood sugar and insulin after eating but also have bigger boosts in hormones like GLP 1, which help keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Practice mindful eating
If you think your weight gain may have something to do with midlife stress (aging parents, college tuition bills and managerial responsibilities at work, anyone?), this approach may be especially helpful to have in your weight-loss toolbox. “A lot of times eating, especially mindless eating, can be stress related, and meditation techniques can be helpful in terms of both alleviating anxiety and making you more conscious of how much you’re consuming,” explains Apovian.
People who practice this technique — which involves paying attention to how hungry or full you feel, planning meals and snacks, eating as a singular activity (without, say, also reading the paper or watching TV), and zeroing in on how your food really tastes — may be more successful at weight loss. People who participated in an online mindfulness-based weight-loss program, for instance, lost more weight (on average, about 4.2 pounds) than a control group, according to a North Carolina State University study presented last year at the European Congress on Obesity.
Need some tips to get you started? Eat slowly (put your fork down between bites, and chew your food well), try to have meals without any outside distractions, and follow the one-bite rule when it comes to favorite but fattening foods like desserts.
Reprinted from AARP.
There are plenty of reputable contests and sweepstakes out there (including some from AARP), and let’s be honest, winning feels great! However, there are questionable characters out there who are trying to hook you on winning to reel in the profits for themselves.
How it Works
You’re told you’ve won a prize but:
- You have to pay a fee to collect your winnings;
- You have to wire money to a well-known company to insure delivery of the prize;
- You have to deposit a check they have sent you;
- Your notice was mailed by bulk rate;
- You have to attend a sales meeting to win.
What You Should Know:
- You cannot win a contest you did not enter. Don’t believe claims saying that you were automatically entered.
- Playing a foreign lottery is illegal. If you’re told that your name was entered in a foreign lottery, know it is a scam.
- Remember- if you have to pay to receive it, it’s not a prize. It’s a scam!
What You Should Do:
- Be vigilant. The Federal Trade Commission recommends looking up a contest or promoter in a search engine with the words “scam” or “complaint”.
- Warn others. If you think you’ve been targeted by a prize scam, report it at www.ftc.gov/complaint and share on the Fraud Watch Network scam-tracking map.
- Report spam texts that offer gifts, gift cards, or free services to your carrier, then delete the message
According to a new AARP survey, more than three-quarters of Americans over age 65 know little or nothing about the federal government’s initiative to replace their Medicare cards. And that makes them susceptible to scammers intent on taking advantage of the confusion.
Individuals new to Medicare are receiving the updated card, which displays a unique combination of 11 letters and numbers rather than a beneficiary’s Social Security number (SSN). Current beneficiaries will begin receiving their replacement cards next month.
AARP found that 60 percent of those surveyed mistakenly believe they might have to pay for the revamped cards. The new cards are free. And more than half of respondents said they might not be suspicious if they received a call — supposedly from Medicare — asking them to verify their SSNs as a prerequisite to getting a new card. Medicare officials have emphasized that they will never call beneficiaries about the cards, which are being mailed out by the Social Security Administration.
“The new Medicare cards are a step forward for fraud prevention, but con artists are working overtime on new ways to scam seniors,” says Nancy LeaMond, AARP’s chief advocacy and engagement officer.
Scammers posing as Medicare representatives have already been calling beneficiaries demanding a processing fee. Other fraudsters are telling beneficiaries that they are owed a refund from transactions on their old card and then asking for bank account information to process the reimbursement. Medicare will never ask an enrollee for a bank account number, and no refunds are owed.
AARP’s telephone survey reached 800 respondents and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.
AARP’s Fraud Watch Network provides more prevention tips and advice on card-replacement and other types of scams. Consumers can also sign up for “Watchdog Alert” emails to get regular updates on new scams.