Hi-tech Scams

Beware of these dangerous hi-tech scams  

By now, most of us know about the most obvious scams — we avoid phishing emails, letters from Nigerian princes, phone calls from guys claiming to represent Microsoft’s tech support, and we sometimes even remember to check the ATM for the presence of a skimmer. But there’s a whole new generation of scams out there, with criminals hoping to catch you unaware with an innovative con. Here are some dangerous ruses to watch out for.

One-ring phone calls. If you’ve ever heard your phone ring once or twice and stop and then return the call to see who it was, then you’re the target audience for this particular con. Scammers use auto-dialers to randomly call vast banks of phones, but they only allow the target phones to ring once or twice before disconnecting. The expectation is that some people will return the call to see what they missed. And though the Caller ID might look like a typical U.S. number, The Federal Trade Commission says that in reality, they’re connecting to a premium service (like an adult entertainment number) that charges an exorbitant per-minute fee — as much as $9 per minute, plus a $20 international calling charge. The remedy? Don’t call back a number you don’t recognize. But be especially wary of area codes that include 268, 284, 473, 664, 649, 767, 809, 829, 849 and 876, since these are known offenders from the Caribbean.

Sticky ATMs. Skimmers are old news. There’s a new way criminals are trying to get at your credit card, and it’s at least as challenging to detect. Instead of inserting a device into the mechanism that swipes your card, criminals are starting to use adhesive to inhibit the operation of certain buttons on the keypad, meaning you can’t complete your transaction after inserting the card — and using foil in the mechanism to block the credit card from popping back out. Customers who run into these machines leave their card behind, and criminals waiting nearby then use a tool to complete the transaction and take your card as well. The good news, though, is that often there is a solution. According to police, the scam works because many people don’t realize they can perform many of the same actions on the touch screen as on the keypad. So if you’re stymied by the hardware try the screen instead.

Fake funerals. Fake funerals notices are the newest breed of email scam that include poisoned links. Once again, the FTC is on hand to provide a warning: In a nutshell, criminals send fake funeral notices, often mimicking real funeral homes. The email doesn’t indicate whom the service is for, so recipients have to open the included link for details. And of course, the link is malicious and pushes malware onto the PC.

Scam Refunds. If you’ve been bitten by ransomware or a similar crime, in which your PC is held hostage by malware unless you pay a ransom fee, you might now be targeted by a new scam — this time, promising to refund your money. As reported by Identify Theft 911, an ID theft management company, emails have been found in the wild that purport to be from Microsoft or other large tech companies and offer a refund for any losses you had from previous malware. The catch? You need to provide financial information so the refund can be direct deposited. Criminals assume that if you fell for malware once, you might be naive enough to pay a second time.

Reprinted from CBS Moneytalk. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/beware-of-these-dangerous-hi-tech-scams/#

 

Senior Living Contract

Senior living contracts (also called admission or residency agreements) come in many different forms depending on the community, type of care and your state. Though, no matter what type of senior living contract you’re entering into, it’s important to ensure you fully understand it before signing on the dotted line.Looking at the Details of a Senior Living Contract

Since most senior living contracts are full of industry and legal terms, it can be difficult to understand the complete terms of the agreement, which is why it’s beneficial to have an attorney review it on your behalf. See how you can take a more in-depth look at the details of a senior living contract and read other tips from A Place for Mom’s Legal Expert, Stuart Furman Esq.

How to Look at the Details of a Senior Living Contract

According to Furman, most families do not consult with an attorney before signing a senior living contract because they’re in a moment of crisis – there’s an available spot and the senior living community needs to know if they’ll take it right now. Other reasons include families becoming overwhelmed or not realizing that some aspects of the contract are negotiable.

Furman says that while some elements of a contract – like involuntary discharge – are not negotiable, others – like mandatory arbitration – might be.

“People don’t think they can change the terms,” he says, “but an attorney will help you understand what you’re signing, what the terminology really means and what is and isn’t negotiable.”

Key Things to Consider Before Signing a Senior Living Contract

When it comes to senior living contracts, here are some key things that you should understand before signing:

1. Cost of Living Increases

According to Furman, cost of living increases are often negotiable. The care provider should give adequate notice of a price increase, but it’s good to get that notice in writing.

If you don’t see anything in your contract about cost of living increases then ask the provider when the price will go up and how much notice they will give you. Then ask them to add these terms into the contract.

In addition to these areas, the American Bar Association has an excellent article called “Admissions Contracts for Senior Housing” about how to evaluate the different types of contracts out there. The publication also has a comprehensive list of questions you should ask about:

  • Accommodations and fees
  • Health care and services
  • State regulations and requirements
  • The care provider
  • The rights of residents

2. Involuntary Discharge

An involuntary discharge is when a resident is forced to leave their community against their wishes. Failure to pay rent is one reason for an involuntary discharge, but there are other health-related situations that are often out of the resident’s control. For example, a resident who has tuberculosis (TB) may be forced to leave their community due to the risk they pose to other residents.

No matter what type of senior living care you’re receiving, the community must meet state regulations which govern discharge situations. Furman, who specializes in elder law in the state of California, states that “Title 22” is a regulation that has defined prohibited conditions in which a resident can’t stay at a lower level of care than they need. In other words, if your care needs exceed the level of care that your community can offer, then you can’t stay. For example, if a resident has a gastric tube then they would need a skilled nurse (registered nurse) on staff to care for them. If their existing community doesn’t have skilled nurses then they may be forced to move. A review of what conditions would force an involuntary discharge and options if that occurs may be a valuable inquiry so that the family can be ready for any future healthcare event.

While certain terms of discharge are not negotiable, beware when this part of the contract is left too vague. Consumer Reports suggests that terms of discharge should be as specific as possible. Furman points out these terms are often left open because discharges happen on a case-by-case basis and a community is bound to follow state regulations. If you feel the contract you’re considering is too vague then ask for clarification or examples.

3. Mandatory Arbitration

A mandatory arbitration provision (sometimes called forced arbitration) is common in senior living contracts. This provision requires disagreements to be settled by a third party arbiter and not in court.

What is arbitration? According to Furman, arbitration was created as a process to help backlogged courts. Essentially, it’s a mini-trial that’s not public and is more relaxed when it comes to rules surrounding the evidence that’s allowed to be presented. Historically, arbitration typically helps the defendant because it limits post action rights and it’s done privately.

If you find a mandatory arbitration clause in your contract Furman recommends crossing it out. This is an area that is often negotiable. Consumer Reports also suggests striking this clause from the contract before signing it, saying that “there’s little risk that your loved one won’t be admitted if you try this. If the management insists that arbitration is mandatory, you can decide whether it’s worthwhile to agree.”

4. The Type of Contract

In continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) or life plan communities, there are often three types of contracts:

  • Type A contracts are also known as extensive or life care contracts. In this type of contract, a resident pays a monthly, pre-determined service fee throughout their life, no matter the type of services they need or care they require.
  • Type B contracts are also known as modified or modified fee-for-service contracts. In this type of contract, residents pay an entry fee as well as some of the costs for assisted living and skilled nursing when this care is required.
  • Type C contracts are also known as fee-for-service contracts. In this type of contract, residents pay an entry fee as well as the full cost for assisted living and skilled nursing care when this care is required.

The best type of CCRC contract and fee structure will depend on your financial situation as well as your current and anticipated health care needs. McKnight’s Senior Living shares that Type A and C contracts have become more common in CCRCs over the past decade.

When it comes to a senior living contract, like all things, it’s critical that you understand what you’re signing. If you’re on a waiting list for an assisted living, memory care or independent senior living community, then ask for their standard contract so you have time to review it before space becomes available, because you’ll have very little time to do so once a spot is ready for you or your loved one.

Most senior living care providers will be happy to oblige because when you understand what you’re signing, you’ll have fewer disagreements and disputes in the future, which is a win-win for all involved.

One last thing: once you do sign the contract, ensure you get a copy and use it to hold your care provider accountable to the agreements they’ve made to you.

Reprinted from A Place for Mom.

 

Sweepstakes Fraudsters are using AARP’s Name

Phone with Warning Scammer Calling on the call screen

ALAMY

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).

New Medicare Cards

Medicare Shows Off New Card Design

CENTERS FOR MEDICARE & MEDICAID SERVICES VIA AP

The new Medicare ID has been redesigned to prevent fraud and includes an 11-character, randomly assigned identifier, instead of a Social Security number.

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.

Fake Veteran Charities

Fake Veteran Charities

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.

Beware of Secret Shopping Scam

Beware of Secret-Shopping Scam

FTC warns about the return of an old scheme

emails illustration caught with a fishing hook

The Federal Trade Commission is warning that an old scam involving fraudulent checks and shopping has again reared its head.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning consumers to watch out for the resurgence of a long-standing scam that combines fake checks with secret shopping.

“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

 

How to Get Rid of Junk Mail and Telemarketing Calls for Good.

How to Get Rid of Junk Mail and Telemarketing Calls for Good

As a child, I used to get so excited when I received something in the mail. Maybe it was because the only time I would get mail was either around my birthday or Christmas and it usually contained a check from my grandmother. Now, as an adult, my relationship with mail is quite the opposite. The only correspondence I receive is either bills or junk, neither of which I look forward to receiving.

While there is not much anyone can do to eliminate their bills, there are a few things you can do to get rid of junk mail. In fact, scams and spam seem to be on the rise via most methods of communication these days. Taking steps to declutter your mailbox and protect your phone number(s) can greatly minimize your frustration and reduce your vulnerability to fraud and identity theft.

How to Opt Out of Junk Mail

The first step toward eliminating a large portion of one’s junk mail is to participate in the DMAchoice program from the Data & Marketing Association (DMA). This program was created to give you control over what mail you receive and help the DMA’s more than 3,600 members avoid mailing to uninterested customers.

The categories of mail you may opt out of receiving include credit card offers, catalogs, magazine offers (such as subscription offers, newsletters, periodicals and other promotional mailings), donation requests, bank offers, retail promotions and more. You can choose to opt out of specific direct mail categories like the ones above or all of them. Once registered, the DMA forwards your preferences to the appropriate members.

To register, visit www.dmachoice.org and enter your information. There is a $2 fee to register online, but this registration lasts for 10 years. Caregivers also have the option to register on behalf of their care recipients to prevent them from receiving junk mail as well. Just visit the DMA website’s Do Not Contact for Caretakers page and follow the instructions. There is no cost for removing a vulnerable senior from the DMA’s databases.

Cancelling Pre-Approved Credit Offers

In the same way that DMAchoice works with member organizations to streamline marketing and promote consumer satisfaction, the OptOutPrescreen program works directly with the credit bureaus Experian, Equifax, TransUnion and Innovis to allow consumers to opt out of pre-approved and pre-screened credit and insurance offers.

To register for the program, visit OptOutPrescreen.com or call 888-567-8688. If you register online or by telephone, your registration is valid for five years. To opt out permanently, you will need to print, sign and mail back a permanent opt out election form. This form will be emailed to you when you register online or be mailed to you if you register by telephone.

Doing Away with Unsolicited Mail

In order to opt out of generic mail (the type that says “Dear Occupant” or “Current Resident”), you must directly contact the organization that sent you the solicitation. If you’d like to send a written request, provide your name and mailing address and state clearly that you wish to opt out from receiving future mail.

“Junk” Can Overwhelm Your Phone, Too

While junk mail is a nuisance that can literally pile up, unsolicited telephone calls can be equally as annoying but even more dangerous. Scammers will often call pretending to be from a legitimate organization in an attempt to get you to send them money or share your sensitive financial or identifying information.

One common scam is where the caller pretends to be from the IRS. He or she states that you owe money and if you do not pay within a certain timeframe you will be arrested. They use fear and intimidation to get the victim to do what they want.

But how can you tell which calls are legitimate and which are scams? It is often difficult to make that determination based on the call alone. One way to reduce, if not eliminate, legitimate solicitation calls is to register both your home and cell phone numbers on the Federal Trade Commission’s national Do Not Call Registry. Once you have registered, solicitors are prohibited from contacting you.

However, this does not apply to organizations with which you currently conduct business (known as established business relationships or “ERBs”) or tax-exempt organizations. You will still receive calls from entities you have given permission to contact you, like your bank, charities soliciting donations and—everyone’s favorite—political calls.

To register for this free service, call 1-888-382-1222 from the telephone number you wish to register. You can also register online at www.donotcall.gov. Keep in mind that this registration does not expire, so there is no need to ever re-register.

Telemarketers have 31 days from your registration date to remove your information from their call list and cease contact. If you receive a call after this 31-day period, notify the caller that you are on the national Do Not Call Registry and ask to be removed from their contact list. If they continue to call you, then you can report them online at the FTC’s complaint website. By law, organizations that are not tax exempt must remove a consumer’s contact information from their call list upon request.

This will not eliminate all calls, but it will greatly reduce the number of legitimate, unsolicited calls. You should be wary of whatever calls continue to come in from unknown sources. Here are a few indications that you’re talking to a scammer on the phone:

  • Caller is asking you to provide sensitive information
  • Caller is threatening or bullying you
  • Caller demands money, especially in the form of a money order
  • Caller refuses to remove your information from their call list
  • Caller claims to be from the IRS or another “official source” and demands money or sensitive information
  • Caller threatens your arrest if you do not comply

Also, don’t be fooled by what appears on your caller ID. Caller ID can easily be manipulated using free online tools. This process is called “spoofing.” I could call you and have the caller ID read “IRS” or “police station.” It really is just that simple.

Read: Fake Caller ID: Don’t Fall for Spoofing Scams

If you are in doubt when you receive an unsolicited telephone call, simply hang up the phone. If you get a call from someone claiming to be from your bank or credit card company, hang up and call the official telephone number printed on your bank statement or the number printed on the back of your credit card. If they claim to be from the IRS, you can visit the IRS website (www.irs.gov), and call them at the telephone number listed there. You get the idea. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Tackling Unwanted Text Messages

If you receive spam-type text messages on your cell phone, you can typically report it to your carrier by forwarding the text message to 7726. This works for AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and Bell customers. They will then add this to their identified spam messages list and attempt to block the sending number. This process is similar to identifying an unsolicited email as spam or junk mail. Once you have labeled it as such, your email provider will block future emails from that sender from getting into your inbox.

The same handling rules for spam emails apply for text messages as well. Don’t reply to the sender, click on any links in the messages or provide any personal information. Legitimate businesses will not ask for your account or login information via text. The next safest thing after reporting the message to your carrier is to delete it immediately.

While you may not be able to block all potential frauds and scams, these tools will help you to eliminate most legitimate solicitors, making it easier for you to identify the remnants as fraudsters and scammers. At that point, you can simply toss the mail, hang up the telephone or delete the text

Reprinted from AgingCare.com

 

5 Ways to Lose Weight after 50

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.

No Winners in Prize Scams

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

Medicare Card Scam

New AARP survey finds most beneficiaries unaware of redesigned card initiative

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Sixty percent of those surveyed mistakenly believe they might have to pay for the revamped Medicare ID cards, making them vulnerable to scammers.

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.