Beware of “free trial” offers

Many promotional offers by companies lure consumers into accepting products or subscriptions, but then it can be difficult to avoid a bill, cautions AARP’s Fraud Watch Network.

Often “free trial” offers require consumers to cancel after the free part ends. And when you don’t cancel, you’ll receive more of the product, along with the bill.

In some cases, the fine print makes it very difficult to cancel in time to avoid any charges. The tactics are generally legal, “unless the seller fails to disclose that you’ll be charged following the free offer,” cautions AARP’s Fraud Watch Network.

Always read the fine print before accepting a free trial, or simply decline the offer. Keep an eye out for unauthorized charges on your credit card statement. If one appears, don’t call the toll-free number next to it to dispute the charge. Rather, call your credit card company to report it for a better chance of canceling out the charge. If you do get caught in this trap, file a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and your state attorney general’s office.

Another way to inform yourself about whether a free offer is a good move is before signing up, search online for reviews about the company.

For more information:

When a Con Man Calls

Frauds using false identities are on the rise. Here’s how to foil the fakers

When a con man calls


Can you spot an impostor? Eighty-five percent of adults are confident they can, according to a recent AARP survey. But the majority of the survey participants then flunked an “Impostor IQ” quiz that measures the ability to spot a liar (take the quiz at


Welcome to what experts call the illusion of invulnerability — the belief that frauds happen to others but not you. Overconfidence in your ability to spot bad guys is a dangerous thing. Impostor fraud is among the fastest-growing scam types precisely because so many of us think we are immune to it.

To help, here is a small sampling of actual impostor scams now playing out across America. The takeaway? Never accept a pitch or give any information to a stranger — on the phone, in person or over the internet — without first independently verifying that it’s legitimate.

The jury duty manager: 
“Hi, I’m calling from the courthouse, and you missed jury duty. Pay $400 or go to prison.

The puppy breeder:
 “As a dog lover, you should know we just got a beautiful litter of purebred golden retriever puppies. Just $200 each!”

The utility company:
 “We will be shutting off your electricity in 24 hours if you don’t pay the past-due amount on your bill immediately.”

Learn more about: Utility imposter scams

The government clerk: 
“You have unclaimed property with our state. Simply pay this fee, and we will release it to you.”

The ticket seller: “As an affiliate of a major ticket vendor, we can get you seats for your dream concert for a discount, if you act quickly.”

The bank verifier: “There’s a data problem with your checking account. Please verify this information so we can confirm things and fix the error.”

The big-winner announcer:
 “I’m from the Canadian lottery, and you have won $1 million! Pay the import tax and fee, and we’ll send you your winnings.”

Learn more about: Sweepstakes imposter scams

The doctor representative: “Research shows conclusively that these new capsules will stop your disease in its tracks.”

The police or 
fire department: “We’re raising money for officers (or firefighters) injured in the line of duty. How much will you be donating today?”

Learn more about: Police imposter scams

The Internal Revenue Service: “You owe taxes and are at grave risk of large fines or jail time if you do not settle this situation immediately.”

Learn more about: IRS imposter scams

The long-
distance lover:
 “In these weeks of chatting, I’ve fallen so in love with you. Send money for a plane ticket, and oh, the magic that will happen!”

Learn more about: Online dating scams

The military rep: “I’m from the Veterans Administration, and you are entitled, as an ex-soldier, to benefits from this program. I just need to know ..

Learn more about: Veterans scams

Learn more about: Military-themed imposter scams

Reprinted from AARP Fraud Network.

Charity Scams

December is a critical month for charities to raise money. In fact, nearly one third of annual giving occurs in December. Scammers are well aware of this, and are out in full force looking to line their own pockets as the year draws to an end.

How It Works:

  • Scammers 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 charity may closely resemble the name of a real charity.
  • The fake charity might ask you to wire money or give cash – see this as a red flag.

What You Should Know:

  • Real charities need your support, and they, like us, lose out when a scammer intervenes.
  • 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:

  • 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 can’t furnish this information, close your door or walk away.
  • The Federal Trade Commission suggests making an annual donation plan to list out which causes you will support and which reputable charities will receive your money.

When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. You have the power to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams.

Reprinted from AARP Fraud Network.

10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimers

10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month.

Memory loss that disrupts daily life may be a symptom of Alzheimer’s or another dementia. Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. There are 10 warning signs and symptoms. Every individual may experience one or more of these signs in a different degree. If you notice any of them, please see a doctor.



One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s is memory loss, especially forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events; asking for the same information over and over; increasingly needing to rely on memory aids (e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to handle on their own.

What’s a typical age-related change? 
Sometimes forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later.


Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.

What’s a typical age-related change? 
Making occasional errors when balancing a checkbook.


If you notice any of the 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s in yourself or someone you know, don’t ignore them. Schedule an appointment with your doctor.


People with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes, people may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favorite game.

What’s a typical age-related change? 
Occasionally needing help to use the settings on a microwave or to record a television show.


People with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there.

What’s a typical age-related change? 
Getting confused about the day of the week but figuring it out later.


For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast, which may cause problems with driving.

What’s a typical age-related change? 
Vision changes related to cataracts.


People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word or call things by the wrong name (e.g., calling a “watch” a “hand-clock”).

What’s a typical age-related change? 
Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.


A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time.

What’s a typical age-related change? 
Misplacing things from time to time and retracing steps to find them.


People with Alzheimer’s may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.

What’s a typical age-related change? 
Making a bad decision once in a while.


A person with Alzheimer’s may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. They may also avoid being social because of the changes they have experienced.

What’s a typical age-related change? 
Sometimes feeling weary of work, family and social obligations.


The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer’s can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone.

What’s a typical age-related change? 
Developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.


Signs of Alzheimer’s/dementia Typical age-related changes
Poor judgment and decision-making Making a bad decision once in a while
Inability to manage a budget Missing a monthly payment
Losing track of the date or the season Forgetting which day it is and remembering it later
Difficulty having a conversation Sometimes forgetting which word to use
Misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps to find them Losing things from time to time


If you notice any of the 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s in yourself or someone you know, don’t ignore them. Schedule an appointment with your doctor.

With early detection, you can: Get the maximum benefit from available treatments – You can explore treatments that may provide some relief of symptoms and help you maintain a level of independence longer. You may also increase your chances of participating in clinical drug trials that help advance research.
Learn more about treatments.
Learn more about clinical studies.


Care and support services are available, making it easier for you and your family to live the best life possible with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

24/7 Helpline: 800.272.3900

Reprinted from the Alzheimer’s Association.  For more information contact them at ALZ.ORG

Does Medicare Pay for Home Healthcare?

There is an important distinction between medically necessary home health care and personal care services provided by an unskilled caregiver. Understanding the difference between these two levels of care is key to determining who is eligible for Medicare-covered in-home services. For more information on this topic, read The Difference Between Home Health Care and Non-Medical Home Care Services.

Only home health care services prescribed by a doctor and provided by skilled caregivers are covered by Medicare, but patients must meet specific eligibility requirements.

Who Can Receive Home Care Covered by Medicare?

Individuals must have coverage through Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and/or Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) and meet the following four criteria as set forth by

  1. Eligible recipients must be under the care of a doctor. The doctor must prescribe a plan of care that involves medically necessary services for the treatment or maintenance of a health condition. This care is intended to be short term, so the doctor is required to re-certify the plan of care every 60 days.
  2. Eligible recipients must be certified by a doctor as homebound. This means it requires a considerable and taxing effort to leave the home because of reliance on a mobility aid (e.g. cane, wheelchair or walker), special transportation, or the assistance of another person to do so. An individual does not have to be bedridden to be considered homebound and can still qualify even if they are able to leave home for medical treatments, adult day care, and short, infrequent nonmedical outings, such as religious services and family gatherings.
  3. Eligible recipients must have a doctor’s certification of need for at least one of the following services:
    • Intermittent skilled nursing care
      Intermittent means part-time services that are needed “less than seven days per week or less than eight hours per day over a period of three weeks or less.” There are some exceptions in special circumstances, but Medicare generally will not cover additional care.
    • Skilled therapy services
      These services can include physical therapy (PT), speech-language pathology (SLP) and occupational therapy (OT) and a qualified therapist must administer them. The services must be necessary to improve the patient’s condition in a reasonable and somewhat predictable period of time, to create an initial maintenance program for the condition, or to safely and effectively engage in a maintenance program with proper supervision and instruction.
  4. Home health care services must be provided by a Medicare-certified home health care agency.

What Home Care Services Does Medicare Cover?

The primary objective of Medicare’s home care program is to provide seniors with short-term skilled services in the comfort of their own homes as an alternative to recovering in a hospital or skilled nursing facility.

Skilled nursing services are those that must be provided by a qualified health professional, such as a Registered Nurse (RN) or a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN).

Examples of these services include:

  • Monitoring of a patient’s vital signs and overall health
  • Wound care for a pressure ulcer or surgical incision
  • Administration of intravenous drugs or nutrition therapy
  • Injections
  • Catheter changes
  • Patient and caregiver education

Skilled therapy services are those that must be provided by or under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist, occupational therapist or speech-language therapist.

  • Physical therapy exercises typically focus on improving and restoring strength, balance and range of motion for optimal physical function.
  • Occupational therapy assists in regaining the ability to independently engage in activities of daily living (ADLs) and adapting these tasks or the surrounding environment to improve functionality and accessibility.
  • Speech-language therapy helps patients regain the ability to speak and communicate as well as overcome swallowing difficulties (dysphagia).

It is important to note that the above services will only be covered if they are deemed specific and effective treatments or maintenance methods for a patient’s condition. Additionally, Medicare standards will determine the eligible frequency and duration of the treatments. Once the level of care exceeds part-time or “intermittent” skilled care, Medicare is no longer a payment option. In Medicare’s eyes, home health care services are meant to prevent or delay placement in an assisted living or skilled nursing facility, not completely replace them.

Does Medicare Cover Unskilled Home Care Services?

Medicare will not pay for unskilled home care if those are the only services needed. Personal home care services (assistance with activities of daily living) or homemaker services (e.g. light housekeeping and laundry) will only be covered if they are part of the skilled services detailed in the care plan. Medicare does not cover around-the-clock home care of any kind or meals delivered to the home.

How Much Will I Have to Pay if I Qualify?

With Original Medicare coverage (Part A and/or Part B), eligible seniors will pay nothing for home health care services that are ordered by a doctor and provided by a certified home health agency. Any additional services provided outside of the approved care plan will not be covered and must be paid for out of pocket.

Be aware that before services begin, the home health agency should provide an itemized receipt or plan of care that identifies what is eligible for Medicare coverage and what is not. A written notice called the “Advance Beneficiary Notice of Noncoverage” (ABN) will detail any services and durable medical equipment that Medicare will not pay for as well as the costs the patient will be responsible for.

Reprinted from


Assistive Devices for Seniors

For many individuals with senior parents who live in their own homes, mobility and safety is a constant worry. Declining agility and unsteadiness can result in falls with devastating injuries for seniors, as well tasks that were previously simple, such as getting out of bed, dressing or performing personal hygiene, may become increasingly difficult to accomplish.Must-Have Assistive Devices for Seniors

Assistive devices are fantastic resources to help seniors maintain their daily activities and routines, while encouraging personal freedom and prolonging independent living.

Assistive Devices for Seniors

Many devices can restore confidence, increase mobility and provide family members with peace of mind that their loved one is safe. Learn more from our list of must-have assistive devices for seniors:


These specialized poles increase balance and mobility, and are a terrific alternative to canes and walkers. The dual poles offer lateral stability and are designed for individuals living with conditions such as chronic pain, Multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease and stroke, or for people who are recovering from hip or knee surgery. Each pole has the capacity to bear up to 200 pounds of weight and offers a bell-shaped tip for stability and an ergonomically correct handle for core strengthening.

The poles are adjustable to accommodate all body shapes and sizes, and can be used both indoors and outdoors. The developer’s website is a wealth of information and includes a variety of user guides and video instructions on how to get the most out of the poles.

2. Buttoning Aid Hook

This device is fantastic for seniors with arthritis, fine motor impairment or reduced dexterity. This tool is simple, with a hook and wire design and comfortable grip that allows the user to button blouses, jackets and pants easily, with only one hand.

3. Freedom Grip Bed Handle

The specialized bed handle makes getting out of bed safe. The handle securely attaches to any average height bed frame with a snap lock mechanism and the assembly is fast and simple with no tools necessary. The handle itself is non-slip and nine inches wide, allowing for a firm, stable grip. This is a must-have item for individuals with arthritis, Multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease or vertigo.

4. Jobar Long Reach Comfort Wipe

Maintaining personal hygiene is deeply important for your senior loved one’s dignity and independence. This assistive device is ergonomically designed for people with limited dexterity or who have difficulty reaching. The Long Reach Comfort Wipe is over 15 inches long and equipped with a soft flexible head that securely grips moistened wipes or toilet paper. There is also a quick release function for fast, sanitary disposal.

5. Lively Wearable by GreatCall

This medical alert device is a wearable product with an urgent response button that can call for help whenever it is pushed. It is fashion forward and can be clipped onto clothing or worn around the neck or wrist, and can also be worn in the shower – where a significant number of falls occur. Lively Wearable has built in fall detection technology that will alert a Certified Response Agent if a fall is detected and family members can also be registered for notification if the button is pressed.

6. Reminder Rosie Recordable Alarm Clock

This unique alarm clock is voice controlled and a great device for seniors struggling with brain injury, dementia or memory loss. It is incredibly user friendly, without fussy buttons or difficult programming features and can be personalized with the voice of the user or their loved ones. It can be customized to set daily time-specific reminders for appointments or every-day tasks.

7. TV Ears

This audible device can be connected to a television and worn like a headset to hear dialog clearly, while reducing the volume for others in the room. The television can even be muted and listened to through the headset only. This will improve the experience for everyone in the room, while ensuring your senior loved one is still able to hear and enjoy their program.

8. Uplift Seat Assist

This assistive seating device can be used in conjunction with an armchair, love seat or sofa to manually lift the user into a standing position without overexertion or strain. This is an amazing device for people living with arthritis, coccyx pain or other joint ailments who struggle to rise from a seated position to standing without pain. The memory foam cushion is extremely comfortable and features a waterproof cover; it also folds flat for easy mobility and storage.

Assistive devices can greatly improve the independence and livelihood of your senior parent. By investing in items to help your loved one perform their daily activities, not only will you help to restore their freedom and mobility, you will also have peace of mind that they are comfortable and safe in their own home.

Reprinted from A Place for Mom.

6 steps to prepare for Medicare Open Enrollment

The Medicare Open Enrollment Period (MOE) runs from October 15 through December 7 each year, and when it comes to researching and comparing all available options, sooner is always better than later.

Caregivers have a lot on their plates. When we’re overwhelmed, the natural human response is to deal with the “have-to” tasks first and put off the “need-to” tasks until they become more urgent. However, procrastinating on MOE could have medical and financial implications that last throughout 2018.

Now is the perfect time to do some research and make a few preliminary calls to get an idea of what changes need to be made to your loved one’s Medicare coverage, if any. Preparing before the enrollment period begins can prevent you from scrambling to get the information you need and making knee-jerk decisions. Try to complete at least one of these six steps each week, and you’ll be ready to tackle MOE in no time.

  1. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the different parts of Medicare and how they work together. If you come across any terminology you don’t understand, brush up at the My Medicare Matters website.
  2. Is your loved one on a Medicare Advantage Plan? Is that still working well? Make a point of opening all mail from the private insurance provider that arrives in September and October so you can be on top of any changes to premiums, deductibles, copays and provider groups.
  3. If your care recipient has a Medicare Supplemental Insurance policy (also known as Medigap), make sure you pay attention to any premium increases. At some point, you may need to consider switching to a different policy, dropping this policy or switching to an Advantage Plan.
  4. If you have been spending a lot of money out of pocket on hospital visits and doctor’s appointments (because your loved one doesn’t have Medigap or a Medicare Advantage Plan), now is the time to add up those costs and decide whether a different mix of coverage is a more affordable solution. It’s also worth looking into public programs that can assist with covering costs, such as Medicaid, a state Medicare Savings Program, or the “Extra Help” program.
  5. Go to and look up the location of your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). There are SHIP offices in every county, the District of Columbia and U.S. Territories, but they may go by different names. For example, Florida calls it the Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders (SHINE) Program. They often put on public presentations in the fall that cover changes in Medicare for the coming year. They offer one-on-one counseling as well, but appointments tend to fill up quickly. All of their services are offered free of charge. Now is the time to become best friends with your local SHIP counselors so that they will remember you if you have a last-minute question.
  6. The other part of the equation is making sure that you have up-to-date information about your loved one’s health status. Are they due for an appointment with their primary care physician? Will they need a referral to see a specialist in the near future? Make sure you have a current list of all their medications and know exactly why they are taking each one. If any of their prescriptions are brand name, are there generic equivalents available? If not, be prepared to ask the drug program for an exception if the expensive brand-name medication isn’t part of their formulary.

If you are a Medicare beneficiary, do not forget to factor in your own open enrollment needs. Caregivers are notorious for looking out for everyone BUT themselves. Have you taken care of your preventive visits this year? Is your current coverage both sufficient and affordable? Use the above tips to create a MOE game plan for yourself as well. Perhaps you are turning 65 in the next 12 to 18 months. Your new contact at the SHIP office can assist you with weighing your own coverage options and ensure you do not miss any important deadlines.

Help yourself by making sure you are ahead of the curve. The holiday season ramps up quickly, and even twenty minutes of preparation here and there can save you hours of frantic work in December!

reprinted from


5 Lifestyle tweaks to help ward off dementia

New research shows a dramatic increase in deaths from Alzheimer’s disease, with the number climbing from 16.5 per 100,000 Americans to 25.4 per 100,000 between 1999 and 2014. Specifically, some 5.2 million Americans suffer from the disease, with nearly 94,000 dying of it in 2014. That number is only expected to rise as the elderly population grows. That’s why it’s more important than ever to do what you can to keep Alzheimer’s at bay. Here are five lifestyle tweaks that could help you ward off dement

1. Walk more

Simply adding a one-hour walk to your schedule, three times a week, can reap big rewards when it comes to dementia. A new study out of the University of British Columbia in Canada found that walking could boost brain function in those with vascular dementia. Specifically, researchers found that those with mild vascular dementia impairment who began walking frequently enjoyed lower blood pressure and showed improvement on cognitive tests. They also demonstrated more efficient thinking skills than those who didn’t walk frequently. Vascular cognitive impairment — which is most likely caused by damaged blood vessels in the brain — is widely viewed as the second leading cause of dementia, after Alzheimer’s.

2. Socialize more

The connection between loneliness and Alzheimer’s isn’t clear-cut, but some studies do show a link between a solid social network and a low risk of dementia. In one four-year study of 800 people 75 and older, lonely individuals were more than twice as likely to develop dementia symptoms than those who enjoyed a close circle of friends and family members. The biggest benefits were seen among those who were not only more socially engaged, but who were also more physically and mentally active at the same time.

In an even larger study involving 2,249 women 78 and older, researchers found that those with larger social networks were 26 percent less likely to develop dementia than those with smaller social networks. And women who connected daily with friends and family slashed their risk of dementia by nearly half.

3. Protect your head

The Alzheimer’s Association doesn’t mince words: “There appears to be a strong link between future risk of Alzheimer’s and serious head trauma, especially when injury involves loss of consciousness.” Therefore, it’s imperative that you protect your head by wearing a seat belt, using a helmet when participating in sports and making sure your home is fall-proof. While you no longer may be playing football, you might be cycling. If so, wear a helmet. To help make sure your home is fall-proof, take the following steps, all from A Place for Mom, a free senior-care referral service:

  • Make sure floors are uncluttered.
  • Remove or tack down all scatter rugs.
  • Avoid using slippery wax on floors.
  • Slip-proof the tub, and make sure the bath mat has a nonslip bottom.
  • Remove electrical or telephone cords from traffic areas.

4. Be more mindful of your diet

First, make sure your diet is rich in vitamin D, which is critical for robust cognitive function. (Besides the sun, good sources include tuna, salmon, and milk and orange juice fortified with vitamin D.) A six-year study involving 1,600 people linked Alzheimer’s disease with vitamin D deficiency. “Those who were severely deficient in vitamin D were more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s and dementia than those who had adequate levels,” according to an Alzheimer’ article on the study.

In general, because obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol are all risk factors for dementia, it’s important to talk to your doctor about your diet and daily calorie intake. Eating more leafy greens and cutting back on red meat have also been shown to reduce your dementia risk. And in bad news for diet soda lovers, new research finds that the artificial sweeteners used in diet drinks have been linked to a greater risk of dementia and stroke.

5. Get more quality sleep

You may be getting sleep, but are you getting enough sleep? If you aren’t sleeping at least seven to eight hours a night, you could be setting yourself up for an array of health problems, including dementia, says a report from the Global Council on Brain Health, a collaborative from AARP.

Indeed, one recent study indicates that a lack of sleep may actually lead to Alzheimer’s. Why? Because a lack of sleep means less time for your nocturnal cleaning system to work. This system — also known as the glymphatic system — removes proteins called amyloid beta that can turn into the plaques that contribute to Alzheimer’s and dementia — all while you sleep.

“It’s a myth that adults need less sleep as they age. The evidence is clear that better brain and physical health in older people is related to getting an average of seven to eight hours of sleep every 24 hours,” said Sarah Lock, the council’s executive director and an AARP senior vice president.

Reprinted from AARP.


New Social Security Scam

Financial scams involving people pretending to be government employees aren’t restricted only to those Internal Revenue Service phone schemes so prevalent in recent years. Now there’s a new scam making the rounds, one in which criminals try to defraud people out of their Social Security checks.

Gale Stallworth Stone, the acting inspector general of Social Security, is warning citizens about a scheme that goes like this: Someone posing as a Social Security Administration (SSA) employee calls from a phone number with a 323 area code. In some cases, the swindler tells victims they are due a 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment increase in their Social Security benefits.

The impersonator then asks the victim to verify all of his or her personal information, including name, date of birth and Social Security number, in order to receive the increase. If the impostor is able to acquire this data, the person can use it to contact the SSA and request changes to the victim’s direct deposit, address and phone information.

According to the warning, the SSA will sometimes reach out to citizens by phone for customer service purposes, but the agency’s reps will not ask for personal information this way. Anyone who receives a suspicious call is encouraged to report it to the Office of the Inspector General at 1-800-269-0271 or online via

The SSA also operates a toll-free customer service number for anyone with questions or concerns (1-800-772-1213), which can be contacted from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. (Those who are deaf or hard of hearing can call Social Security at 1-800-325-0778.)

You can also stay on top of con artists’ latest tricks by signing up for AARP’s free Watchdog Alerts.

Stone continues to warn citizens to be cautious and to avoid providing information such as SSN and bank account numbers to unknown individuals over the phone or the internet unless they are absolutely certain of who is receiving these personal details.

“You must be very confident that the source is the correct business party and your information will be secure after you release it,” Stone said.

Reprinted from AARP Fraud Network.


Make -A-Wish Foundation Fraud

A new scam is popping up across the country using the name of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

How It Works:

  • The scammer calls from the “Consumer Protection Agency” or the “Federal Trade Commission” to tell you that you have won 2ndplace in a Make-A-Wish Foundation sweepstakes – a $450,000 prize! You just have to pay $4,500 in processing fees to claim your award.
  • Don’t have the cash? No worries! The caller will offer to lend you the money. He just needs your bank account information to wire it to you.
  • There is typically a follow-up call explaining that the grand prizewinner is ineligible because he was an illegal immigrant, so guess what? You win your $450,000 prize PLUS the $1 million prize! You just need to pay extra for the processing.
  • The scammer will even give you a phone number you can call to verify the “Make-A-Wish Foundation Sweepstakes” is legit, but you are just calling a scammer who is part of the criminal enterprise.

What You Should Know

  • The Make-A-Wish Foundation never engages in sweepstakes.
  • There is no such agency as the “Consumer Protection Agency” and the Federal Trade Commission does not handle sweepstakes (though they do go after fraudulent ones).
  • A similar scam occurred seven years ago, and the criminals were able to steal more than $20 million before being shut down.

What You Should Do:

  • If you get a call like this, hang up.
  • If you or someone you know receives a call regarding this bogus Make-A-Wish Foundation Sweepstakes, please notify the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP or