Stay alert for fraud Medicare COVID-19 scams during this national emergency. Con artists like to take advantage of people when they’re distracted.
Unfortunately, scammers are using the COVID-19 pandemic to try to steal your Medicare Number, personal information, and money. And they’re using robocalls, social media posts, and emails to do it.
Remember, if anyone reaches out to get your Medicare Number or personal information in exchange for something, you can bet it’s a scam.
Be on the lookout, so you can stop scams before they happen. Here are recent Coronavirus scams to watch for:
- Robocalls offering you respiratory masks they’ll never send
- Social media posts fraudulently seeking donations for non-existent charities, or claiming to give you stimulus funds if you enter your bank account information
- Fake testing kits, cures, “immunity” pills, and offers for protective equipment
Visit Medicare.gov/fraud for more information and tips on preventing Medicare scams and fraud.
Con artists may try to get your Medicare Number or personal information so they can steal your identity and commit Medicare fraud. Medicare fraud results in higher health care costs and taxes for everyone.
Protect yourself from Medicare fraud. Guard your Medicare card like it’s a credit card. Remember:
- Medicare will never contact you for your Medicare Number or other personal information unless you’ve given them permission in advance.
- Medicare will never call you to sell you anything.
- You may get calls from people promising you things if you give them a Medicare Number. Don’t do it.
- Medicare will never visit you at your home.
- Medicare can’t enroll you over the phone unless you called first.
Learn more tips to help prevent Medicare fraud.
Check regularly for Medicare billing fraud. Review your Medicare claims and Medicare Summary Notices for any services billed to your Medicare Number you don’t recognize.
Learn more about how to spot fraud.
Report anything suspicious to Medicare. If you suspect fraud, call 1-800-MEDICARE.
Charitable giving is a significant part of many people’s lives and budgets and individuals are often eager to give back and lend a helping hand to those in need. Unfortunately, not every organization seeking a donation is exactly what it claims to be. If you’re not careful, you could wind up losing your well-intentioned money to a scam.
Don’t let the threat of scammers keep you from supporting the causes you care about. By staying educated and informed about charity cons, you will be prepared to spot a scam and avoid falling victim to fraud.
Recognizing common scam periods
While scams and other ploys can arise at any time, they often increase while emotions are running high — like near the holidays or following a natural disaster — when people let their guard down and are eager to support those in need.
Such scams may request donations from you over the phone, through the mail, via email or even on social media. They might include charity names that are very similar to legitimate charities, or even mention recent genuine emergency relief efforts. Their goal is to look as authentic as possible in hopes of tricking you. Some of them are very convincing, but you can protect yourself with these fraud awareness tips from Western Union.
Take your time
Be wary of any sense of urgency to donate. Scammers will try to work quickly, urging you to donate before you find any holes in their story. “If you get a phone call where someone is wanting a donation, don’t act right away. Do your research and donate to a recognized charity,” advised Western Union Senior Manager of Anti-Fraud Operations John Skoglund. Remember, authentic charities won’t push you for an immediate response, and will be happy to accept a donation at any time.
Don’t Respond to Emails or Phone Calls
Scammers may try to steal your donations by creating fake charities or impersonating an organization you’ve donated to in the past. There are many ways to do this; they might scour your social media accounts to find causes you’re sympathetic to or create a fake organization with a name that’s similar to a legitimate charity.
No matter the scam, they may try to solicit your donations via email or over the phone. Even if you think you know the organization that’s contacting you doesn’t mean it’s not a well-disguised criminal.
Don’t respond to email or phone solicitations, and avoid clicking unverified links or downloading attachments. Instead, go directly to a legitimate charity’s website to find the right donation channels.
Do your research
Want to verify if a charity is legitimate and if your donations will be tax-deductible? You can start with the IRS list of tax-exempt organizations. If a charity has registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(3), you will find them here.
Don’t be afraid to ask for details about an organization. The charity should happily provide them. You can also find a third-party source for information such as Charity Navigator or the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance. If the group that contacted you isn’t recognized as a charity by any of these organizations, you should exercise extra caution and think twice before donating.
You can do further research to find out how charities will spend your money and how well they support their mission. Websites like CharityWatch and GiveWell provide ratings and information on charities nationwide.
Pay Using Secure Methods
If a charity is demanding specific payment types like cash or demanding unusual forms of payment like gift cards, this is a red flag. Legitimate charities should be able to accept multiple forms of payment.
You should always pay in a manner that makes sense for you – but keep in mind that credit card payments offer more security than debit cards, checks, or cash. That’s because credit cards aren’t tied to your bank account and have specific protections under the Fair Credit Billing Act.
Avoid Sharing Personal Information
Never share sensitive information like Social Security Numbers or bank account numbers. Even common data like your name, email address, and home address can be used to steal your identity or run further scams, so guard your information carefully. You should only share your personal info with legitimate organizations that take data security seriously.
The friends and family rule
Only use money transfers to send money to friends and family. Never send money to someone you have not met in person, and never share your banking or credit card information. Legitimate charities will never ask for donations to be sent to an individual through a money transfer service.
Be cautious of email links
Some donation requests may come through emails that house fraudulent links taking you to look-a-like websites. These websites have phony donation pages where fraudsters can capture your personal and financial information. Instead of clicking on links in a donation request email, open a new browser window to navigate to the charity’s official website and donate there.
Trust your instincts
Don’t ignore your own concerns regarding a charity’s legitimacy and never assume you’re “just being paranoid.” If you notice any red flags or feel uncertain about the situation, don’t donate. You may just be right after all.
Reach out for help
If you get a fraudulent charity donation request and you’ve sent them money via Western Union, call the company’s fraud hotline at (800) 448-1492 to report it. If the transaction has not been paid out to the receiver, Western Union can stop the transaction and refund your money. To learn more about scams and how to protect yourself, visit the Western Union Consumer Protection Center at www.westernunion.com/fraudawareness.
Watch Your Accounts and Credit Reports
Keep a close eye on your credit cards, bank accounts, and credit reports. If you see unusual activity on your credit card or bank account, you will need to report it to the financial institution immediately. And if inaccurate information lands on your credit report, it could be a sign of identity theft. Identity IQ offers daily credit report monitoring and alerts that keep you informed anytime your credit report changes.
Happy Labor Day Stay Safe!
Labor Day is famous for barbecues, also known unofficially as the holiday that marks the end of summer, the start of football season and a Monday off. It’s a holiday that celebrates the contributions of the millions of hardworking Americans that Labor every Day to make this country great!
Labor Day is a US federal holiday celebrated annually on the first Monday of September. But it is thought to have originated in Toronto, Canada in 1872 and adopted by the United States in the 1880s. The first United States Labor Day was celebrated on September 5, 1882, in New York City. On that Tuesday, 10,000 citizens marched for labor rights down the streets of Manhattan. During this time the average American worked 12 hours a day, six days a week and that included young children who were sweating it out in factories to help contribute.
Today Americans work on average 8 hours a day for 5 days a week. Thanks to the Adamson Act, which was passed on September 3, 1916, federal law started regulating hours worked for private companies. Because the law was passed in early September, Labor Day also celebrates the Adamson Act.
Labor Day ironically causes some of the longest working hours for retail workers. In fact, many other professionals are expected to work on Labor Day as well including correctional officers, police officials, firefighters, nurses, and more. It is also the second most dangerous holiday weekend to drive on U.S. highways. So please Be Safe!
On National Senior Citizens Day we celebrate the people who are part of the fastest-growing demographic in the world. According to the traditional definition, a senior citizen is anyone older than 60 years of age, but this seems relatively young in today’s society! This day was declared to celebrate, honor, and give thanks to all the contributions that generations of individuals have given to their families and communities. Whether it is showing gratitude for a loved one, friend, elder you care for, or close member of your community, take time on August 21st to reach out and show your appreciation.
On August 19th, 1988 President Ronald Reagan declared August 21st National Senior Citizens Day. Here is what he had to say: “For all they have achieved throughout life and for all they continue to accomplish, we owe older citizens our thanks and a heartfelt salute. We can best demonstrate our gratitude and esteem by making sure that our communities are good places in which to mature and grow older.” – President Ronald Reagan
Some great ways to do this could be:
- Taking your loved one out to the movies – everyone can appreciate a nice matinee!
- Creating a video of different family members discussing their favorite memories with the individual.
- Want to get your kids involved? Many local assisted living and nursing homes offer “adopt-a-grandparent” programs, linking up young children with seniors. This is a great way to not only get your kids involved with the community, but also inform them about the significance of Senior Citizens Day.
- Creating a personalized picnic with all their favorite foods.
- Treating your loved one to a nice meal out.
- Offering a helping hand with any small things they need done around the house.
- Something as simple as making a phone call to show how much you love and support them.
- Don’t have someone specifically in mind to celebrate? Volunteer at local assisted living homes or veterans homes.
If you are a senior citizen yourself, well, Senior Citizens Day is all about you. Live a little! Spend time with your favorite people. Treat yourself to an ice cream sundae. Knock something off your bucket list. Or just relax with friends and family. Do whatever floats your boat, because the day is dedicated to you! You’ve earned it!
Happy Senior Citizens Day!
Scammers will use any means to extort money from those they deem to be the most vulnerable. Often, they target senior citizens. Many seniors are targeted on a daily basis by predatory scammers and con-artists looking to take advantage of them, and keeping your elderly loved ones informed has never been so crucial.
If you’re worried that you or a loved one is being targeted, this guide will help you learn about common scamming methods, how to avoid becoming the target of a scam, how to recognize signs that someone is being affected by a scam, and what to do when you’ve discovered that a scam has taken place.
Common Methods of Contact for Scammers
Those looking to commit fraud will use any possible avenue to achieve their goal. Your phone, email inbox, and even your front door can become entryways for those with malicious intent. Because any method of contact can be used to defraud you or your loved ones, constant vigilance is required. Let’s discuss some of the most common methods of contact for scammers.
- Robocalls and pre-recorded messages: Most people are familiar with those annoying, automated phone calls that implore you to give away your personal information for a promised “free vacation” or some other alluring reward. These illegal calls are designed to gather information in order to steal from you, and robocall scams are on the rise.
- “Unknown number” or number spoofing: Callers may block their number or use voice over IP software to trick phone networks into believing that they are calling from your area code. Both of these tactics can make it unclear whether the call is legitimate, often leading targets to answer these calls. This opens the door to them being manipulated and possibly scammed.
- “Official looking” emails: Scam emails are very frequently designed to look like they originated from Microsoft or Apple. The emails may directly ask for your personal information or login credentials, or it may link to a phishing site — a website that tries to steal your information by tricking you into believing it is authentic.
- Information around your home or in your mail: Scammers may take some time to investigate your home before attempting to scam you. They often look for any stickers, notices, stray mail, and so on from known maintenance or utility companies on your property. Using this information, they will pretend to be an employee to gain access to your home and/or get your personal information.
Identifying the Most Common Scams
In order to defend yourself or your loved ones, you should get familiar with the strategies fraudsters use to exploit the elderly. Let’s take a look at the the most common scams. Learning about these will enable you to anticipate scams and protect yourself or report a suspicious person when needed.
Tech Support Scams
Have you ever received a call, email, or pop-up notification from tech support about a necessary update or software to remove dangerous viruses on your computer, tablet or phone? These “tech support calls” can be a scam.
If you get an email or phone call from a person claiming to be from Microsoft or Apple, be wary. Don’t give these people any information. They may be selling malware-laden software or are simply trying to steal your personal information in order to commit identity theft.
If you get a letter in the mail, a phone call, or an email informing you that you’ve won some sort of lottery — one that you’re unaware you were ever entered into — you may be the target of a lottery scam. The “prize money” is often locked behind supposed customs fees, taxes, and other expenses that you’re responsible for. They’ll often take wire transfers, credit card numbers, or even gift cards to pay these fees. The biggest problem with this is that the prize money doesn’t exist.
The easiest way to avoid this scam is to carefully analyze any propositions like this. Some of this boils down to common sense — if you didn’t enter a lottery, it’s extremely unlikely that you would be selected as a winner of one. However, if the lottery seems to be operated by a reputable organization, do some research: contact the group or check their official site for any evidence that the drawing is legitimate.
Home Repair Scams
This covers a variety of scams that involves fraudsters either taking money upfront for work they’ll never complete or participating in unethical behavior that you’ll have the pay the price for later. Some examples of home repair scams, as listed by the FTC, include:
- Home repair scams: Scammers often target the elderly, who often have physical limitations preventing them from doing essential home repairs or maintenance. If your property is in clear need of repairs or lawn care, they may offer to handle those issues for you for upfront payment. Instead of completing the work, they’ll leave after taking your money.
- Utility cut-on scams: Those forced to live without utilities — particularly seniors living in areas that have recently been struck by natural disasters — are commonly targeted by this scam. A person will pose as an employee from your utility company and offer to reconnect services for a fee, only to disappear after receiving payment.
- Cable reconnect scams: If, after going through your mail, scammers notice that your cable has been disconnected due to non-payment, they may offer to reconnect your cable for a surprisingly low fee. They may actually reconnect your cable — but doing so is illegal. You’ll be stuck with further fees and potential legal action against you if you accept this offer.
Homeowner/Reverse Mortgage Scams
Reverse mortgages, an option for people at least 62 years old, can help seniors (who are often on a fixed income) overcome financial hurdles. Unfortunately, predatory lending practices have led to many seniors being charged unreasonable interest rates. Such loans with predatory rates are often called reverse mortgage scams.
The FBI has given some advice for seniors to avoid these loans. This includes:
- Not responding to unsolicited loan offers
- Carefully analyzing loan offers that seem too good to be true
- Not signing anything that you don’t understand
- Seeking out a reverse mortgage counselor before accepting any offers
Sometimes, scammers may target seniors by falsely posing as representatives from government organizations such as the IRS or SSA. They’ll demand payment for back taxes, for missing jury duty, or for some other false pretense and extort money under the threat of arrest, jail time, or deportation. Using phone number spoofing (as outlined above) and fake badge numbers, a call from such a scammer may even appear to be authentic.
Do not pay the imposter, and report any such attempts. Federal organizations such as the IRS don’t contact civilians in this manner to collect debts — they’ll typically make such requests through the mail.
Health Care/Health Insurance/Medicare Fraud
If someone claims that they are a representative from the government looking to help you continue your Medicare coverage, be wary: They may be simply looking to get your information in order to commit identity theft. This scam most often takes place during the Medicare “open enrollment” period and disproportionately targets seniors.
Only provide information after you’ve verified who you’re talking to. You can call 1-800-MEDICARE to check that you’re not speaking with an impostor.
Another type of scam that can harm seniors is romance scams. Malicious users will often target widows or widowers on social media or dating sites, posing as a new potential romantic interest. After taking some time to build trust with the target, scammers will begin to request more information about them, perhaps even soliciting money via wire transfers. Blinded by love, these users will often lose hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in this long con.
This is a prevalent problem on dating sites. In fact, 12 percent of all dating site users are conned. In order to avoid becoming a part of this statistic, do not give information or money to anyone unless you’ve verified their identity. Thoroughly research people online, and keep an eye out for any inconsistencies in a person’s backstory; these might be the signs of a fake, malicious user.
In a similar manner to romance scams, grandparent scams involve assuming a false persona in order to develop a relationship with a target under false pretenses. In this scam, fraudsters pretend to be the distant relative of the target (or a lawyer presenting the relative) in order to extort money from them for supposedly urgent reasons. This is particularly problematic when the person being targeted has memory-related issues stemming from conditions like Alzheimer’s or dementia.
An especially disheartening type of scam, charity frauds and donation scams are very common, particularly during the holiday season. People looking to turn the spirit of cheer and goodwill into personal gain may pose as a collector for a charitable (often non-existent) organization and solicit for donations.
Don’t donate before researching the veracity of this organization. If they have a good, reputable track record, you can feel confident that your donations will go toward the cause it is intended to. Furthermore, instead of giving money to a door-to-door collector, opt to donate directly to the organization when possible.
General Tips for Avoiding Scams
While some advice for common scams can be found in the previous section, there are some best practices that you must follow in order to protect both yourself and your family. Here are some of the most important general tips you should follow to avoid becoming the victim of a scam:
Do Not Share Personal Information
- Your personal information can be used by fraudsters to impersonate you. Bank accounts, credit cards, loans, and more can be opened in your name, and resolving a case of identity theft can be an expensive and panic-inducing experience. PIN numbers, credit card numbers, your Social Security number, passwords, even email address or mail addresses should all be kept strictly confidential.
- Legitimate companies will not ask for your PIN or password. You should treat any requests for your personal information with extreme suspicion.
Do Your Research
- When speaking to someone representing themselves as an employee for a reputable organization, don’t take their word for it. Keep notes, always asking for full names, a reciprocal phone number, their manager’s/supervisor’s phone number, badge numbers, ID cards, and/or some form of identification that confirms they are who they say.
- Do some research on the company before accepting an email or letter as authentic. Search the company or product name if they give you one along with words like “scam” or “complaint.” These results could reveal that they are part of an ongoing scam. You should also try searching with a phrase that describes the situation you think you might be experiencing, such as “IRS scam call.”
- Research the company on the Better Business Bureau. The BBB will give you an idea of the company’s reputation and give you valuable information to conduct further research.
Be Wary of When and How You Pay
- Do not pay upfront for promises. No reputable organization or service should charge you upfront for services regarding debt relief, credit and loan offers, mortgage assistance, or a job. These types of fees, as noted above, are extremely common in scams — and are a sure sign that you need to be cautious.
- If you are interested in something, ask the representative to send you an offer in writing. This will help you do further research and, if necessary, serve as evidence when you report any potential scams.
- There is a reason that scammers often accept wire transfers or reloadable money cards/gift cards; they aren’t easily traced. As such, using these methods is risky. Government offices and honest companies will not ask you to use these as a method of payment — they will send you a bill.
- Read the fine print and be wary of “free” trials. Such “free trials” often aren’t free at all: They may lead to unexpected charges, commitments to months of a service you don’t want to use, or worse. Take a look at customer reviews and check out the business on the Better Business Bureau before accepting any such offers.
Red Flags for Caregivers and Loved Ones to Lookout for
If you have concerns that a friend, family member, or patient is being targeted or has been affected by a scam, there are signs to look out for. Unusual behavior in regards to finances or contact with strangers could indicate that you need to open a dialogue with the person in question.
Unusual and Sudden Changes Regarding Finances
- Sudden financial problems: If a person has an uncharacteristic lack of money — or, worse, they are beginning to leave bills unpaid — there must be clear reason for this change. A financial scam could be to blame.
- Uncharacteristically secretive about their spending: If communication with an individual hits a brick wall whenever the subject of their spending comes up, they may be trying to hide their spending. Whether they feel ashamed for being scammed or have been manipulated into believing that no one should know about it, secrecy could be another sign that they are being taken advantage of.
- Excessive withdrawals or expenditures: If you have evidence that the person is withdrawing or spending an inordinate amount of money, and there is no clear reason why, you should be on the lookout for any other signs they are being scammed.
Abnormal Contact with Strangers
- An unusual amount of contact with strangers: An excessive number of phone calls, emails, paper mail, or house visits from unknown individuals or companies should put you on the lookout. Scammers often build a sense of urgency through multiple messages to extort money.
- A sudden fixation with someone new: Long cons often require that fraudsters build a sense of trust with their target, as is often the case in romance scams. Fraudsters groom their targets by building trust, pretending to befriend them, or show romantic interest and try to isolate them from their families.
What to Do if You or a Loved One Is the Victim of a Scam
Do any of the scam methods above sound like something you or a loved one has been through? Do you feel like you or they may be the victim of another type of scam? The following advice will help victims protect themselves and minimize the damage the scam can do to them.
Stop All Contact Immediately
- If you are still in contact with the person you suspect has scammed you, stop the conversation immediately. Don’t answer phone calls from the suspected scammer and don’t reply to emails or messages. Their efforts will be dedicated to extorting more money from you and manipulating you as much as possible, and confronting them will not resolve the situation.
- Do not make any more payments to the scammer. No amount of money will deter a fraudster or make them go away; if they suspect they can continue to exploit you, they will continue to do so. These are called follow-up scams, and they can cause serious, recurring financial harm to those affected.
Call Your Financial Institution
- If you have sent money to a scammer or given them any personal information that could be used against you, call your bank or credit union and explain to them that you believe you are a victim of a fraud. They will freeze any relevant accounts and give you further instructions to protect your identity.
- Most institutions will have procedures in place to deal with fraud. Check your bank’s website for advice regarding fraud and closely follow any advice they offer.
Assess Online Security
- Change passwords for all online accounts. Be sure that your passwords are strong by creating a complex one consisting of letters, symbols, and numbers. Do not share passwords across different sites or platforms; if one suffers a data breach, you can bet that cyber criminals will access each of your accounts using that password.
- Update PIN numbers. Just as with your passwords, if your PIN numbers are compromised, you’ll need to have them changed as soon as possible to prevent credit card fraud. You’ll may also need to open new banking accounts and be issued new credit cards, depending on the nature of the scam you were subjected to.
- Change your phone number. Once you’ve been a victim of identity theft, you’ll want to get a new phone number in order to avoid any other attempts at fraud or follow-up scams. Furthermore, since your phone number is needed for two-factor authentication for many applications/platforms, be sure to have your number updated in those places to maintain access to those services.
- Block the scammer through whichever avenue they contacted you through — such as your phone number, email, or social media profile. This is also necessary in order to avoid future attempts at scams. The malicious user may attempt to create new accounts or spoof a new phone number in order to bypass these measures, so be wary of opening emails, accepting friend requests, or answering calls from unfamiliar sources.
Report the Scam
Above all, in order to keep others safe from the scam that affected you, be sure to report the crime with the appropriate organization:
- The Federal Trade Commission is the ideal place to start when looking to report an act of fraud. You can file a complaint online or at 1-877-FTC-HELP. The FTC Complaint Assistant can give you more information on who to contact depending on the nature of your specific complaint.
- You’ll also want to file your complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center if the crime in question took place online. Complaints to this organization are used to inform cybersecurity efforts from the FBI and other organizations.
- Contact your local Adult Protection Services. These organizations are dedicated to protecting the vulnerable in the aging community.
See the original article here: Avoiding Elderly Scams: https://www.fiscaltiger.com/avoiding-elderly-scams/
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) was launched by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations. The purpose of WEAAD is to provide an opportunity for communities around the world to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older persons by raising awareness of the cultural, social, economic and demographic processes affecting elder abuse and neglect.
Every year on June 15, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is commemorated in America and around the world. Through WEAAD, we raise awareness about the millions of older adults who experience elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. As many as 1 in 10 older Americans are abused or neglected each year and only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse ever comes to the attention of authorities. Older Americans are vital, contributing members of our society and their abuse or neglect diminishes all of us. WEAAD reminds us that, as in a just society, all of us have a critical role to play to focus attention on elder justice.
The Administration for Community Living (ACL), along with federal and aging partners, invite you to join them in Lifting up Voices for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2019, a theme that is centered on unifying the shared values of elder justice and responding to violence against women to bring to the forefront the lived experiences of older people around the globe. This year, we invite you to join us and other organizations and communities across the country in using the collection of special Lifting up Voices outreach and campaign tools (including an action guide with sample social media posts and graphics), incorporating the Lifting up Voices theme in your community.
The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) serves as a national resource center dedicated to engaging and empowering older people so that they may be an advocate for themselves and their communities. We recognize that it is up to all of us, as a community to ensure the right social structures are in place so people can remain connected to their communities and to society as a whole, reducing the likelihood of abuse. Through evidence based policies, initiatives, education and civic engagement, we can create a sturdy social structure that can support us as we grow older. First established by the U.S. Administration on Aging (AoA) in 1988 as a national elder abuse resource center, the NCEA was granted a permanent home at AoA in the 1992 amendments made to Title II of the Older Americans Act.
To carry out its mission, the NCEA disseminates elder abuse information to professionals and the public, and provides technical assistance and training to states and to community-based organizations. The NCEA:
- Makes news and resources available on-line and an easy-to-use format;
- Collaborates on research;
- Provides training;
- Identifies and provides information about promising practices and interventions;
- Operates a listserve forum for professionals;
- Provides subject matter expertise on program development.