Episode 026: Day 16 – Senior Scams

Episode Description:

Host Zack Demopoulos launches his 30 day preparation plan to care for an aging adult. In Day 16, Zack talks about how prevalent senior scams are, especially around the recent issuing of the new Medicare Card, and how you need to have a conversation with your parents about this.

Show Notes:

Day 16 of the 30 Day Preparation Plan To Care For An Aging Adult:   Senior Scams

  • Zack shares a personal story of a scammer calling his cell phone.
  • Scammers are getting more and more creative.  Easy targets are people with cell phones (because they always pick up) and your aging parent who are at home and answer the good old fashion land line.
  • Latest scam is about the new Medicare issued card—something every older adult may fall for.
  • This is Day 16 of the 30 day preparation plan to care for an aging parent and the topic is senior scams.  If you have not had a chance to listen to days 1-15, please go to season 1 http://raisingparentspodcast.com/page/7/ and check out those episodes.  We also talk about the 9 beginner steps in raising your parent in season 1.
  • 2.7 million reports of fraud and identity theft were reported in 2017 according to FTC  Federal Trade Commission costing victims a total of $328 million.  Those are the reported ones. That doesn’t count the attempts. Senior citizens are targeted more frequently than any other age group according to the NJ Division of Consumer Affairs.
  • A very popular scam is during tax season—“This is the IRS calling”.

Here are the top 10 scams of late (National Council on Aging – NCOA):  https://bit.ly/1MVdQKR

  1. Health Care/Medicare/Health Insurance
  2. Counterfeit Prescription Drugs
  3. Funeral & Cemetery Scams
  4. Fraudulent Anti-Aging Products
  5. Telemarketing
  6. Internet Fraud
  7. Investment Schemes
  8. Homeowner/Reverse Mortgage
  9. Sweepstakes & Lottery Scams
  10. The Grandparent Scam
  • Some others not mentioned by these folks are the one about a scammer calling as a utility company telling the victim that they are past due and need to pay now before cutting off the power.
  • Then there is the one posing as the NJ Motor Vehicle Department telling you your driver license has been suspended and that a payment is needed to get your license back.
  • There is also the ones that give out a customer service rep for big names like Amazon and you google search the number and it takes you to a fake webpage that makes you think it really is Amazon and it will ask you for your information.
  • The latest one should also get your attention.  It’s about the new Medicare card and since about 44 million Americans are enrolled in Medicare that is a pretty big target group to go after.
  • Medicare will not call you.  They just don’t.  Everything will be sent written in the old fashion snail mail style.  So never never talk to anyone on the phone if they say they are Medicare.  By the way the IRS does not make phone calls either.  They use snail mail too.

If you haven’t seen a Medicare card ask to see your parent’s.  If they haven’t received their new ones yet and you are looking at the old one, you will see the problem right away.  Their social security number is on it.  Medicare has always advised that you carry your card.  This has been one of the biggest causes of identity thefts known for a long time.   We all misplace our purses and wallets, especially as someone ages.  And of course they are stolen as well.  And scammers used to ask Medicare beneficiaries to read the number off the card over the phone.  Today you probably notice that the social security number is hidden practically on everything.  At the very most you will see xxx-xx- and the last four digits.  This makes it tougher for bad people to steal your identity.

So the CMS  or the Center For Medicare and Medicaid Services has wanted to change this for quite some time but it was going to be very expensive to do so and they did not have the funding.  Luckily they found some cash and started changing the cards as of April 2018.  It is going to be a gradual process since there are so many folks who have a Medicare card.  They plan to take one year to do this.   But they are mailing them out automatically free of charge starting in one geographic area and moving to another.  When they receive their new card, they are being asked to destroy the old one.  Just make sure your parent does not destroy their social security card or health or drug plan cards.  Just the old Medicare card with the Social Security number on it.

Other things to know:

  • You will receive your new Medicare card any time from April 2018 until the end of April 2019.
  • You can use your new card as soon as you receive it. There is no activation required.
  • To ensure you receive your new Medicare card, create or log into your account at ssa.gov (“my social security account”) to make sure your address is up to date.
  • Additional resources from https://www.medicare.gov/
  • Here are some of the things scammers will do–tell your parent there is a fee for the new card and ask them for their credit card or banking information to pay for it.  Or they will call and ask to validate their information including credit card and banking information before they send out the card or give them a refund for the old one.  The will tell them they cannot use the card until they activate it and they need to give them some information first to do that.
  • The problem is that many older adults will get embarrassed if they have been scammed and won’t tell anyone.  Or they will not know where to turn to tell someone they have been scammed.
  • After hearing so much about the new card, and relying heavily on your Medicare benefits, you can be easily convinced that your Medicare may be at jeapordy if you do not do what the caller says.  With healthcare costs so high no one wants their Medicare in jeapordy and you may fall for it.
  • How do they protect themselves from fraud?

    • Tell them not not share your new Medicare card or MBI with anyone. Keep your card in a safe place and do not carry it in your purse or wallet unless you need it that day. Only give your MBI to people you trust and who legitimately need it such as doctors, pharmacists and health care providers.
  • So this is worth repeating….Scammers may call to ask you to pay an activation fee for the new card.  The card does not need to be activated and there is no fee!
  • Scammers may call to ask you to update or confirm your address or Social Security Number. That is not necessary.  The card is good to go once it is sent to you.
  • Never give your Social Security number or address to anyone over the phone!
  • Never send money or give personal information in response to an unsolicited request.
  • If you suspect something you can Search online for phone numbers or company names and put “scam” with it to see the latest.  Most seniors are not aware of the latest scams.
  • Best thing to do is to Report anything suspicious to the FTC:  1-877-382-4357.
  • You can also sign up for scam alerts:         https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts
  • Now that mom or dad know how to use a cell phone and can text, scammers are hitting them up too.

It’s not necessarily that someone is fooled or not so smart.  As you get older, you may get in a vulnerable moment where you are wishing it was true…how great it would be to get some extra money to have a little more retirement money or leave something for your family—so the sweepstakes check is tempting.  Or even how they may not want to bother you again for something and they try to handle this alone….like activating their Medicare card.  Hey mom and dad…bother me!  That is not a problem at all….but getting scammed is.

Please give me some feedback on what you think of the show so far or topics you may want to hear about in the future.  http://raisingparentspodcast.com/contact/

And remember, our parents raised us… The least we can do is to help raise them.  Talk to you later.

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