Let’s face it – I’m a senior citizen now and will turn 68 later this year. UGA’s famous Dean of Men, William Tate, labeled turning age 65 as “statutory senility” so I’m there. In my business, I have fielded more than a few cases of seniors being targeted for various types of fraud.
A recent telephone call to my mother (our home phone number hasn’t changed since the 1950s.) gave me the incentive to write this article.
The business was calling to verify her purchase of several medically-related magazines and reference material. The only small problem is that my mother died in August 2004. The conversation abruptly ended when I asked the caller to confirm the area code for Heaven.
Several articles could be written on Medicare fraud alone, but let’s touch on some other problems that target seniors.
Nigeria clearly has the most money in the universe as we all have a special inheritance from one of their Princes.
Unsolicited telephone calls offering hot stock tips or precious metals stored at a private location should be avoided. If you hear other people talking in the background, you’re dealing with a “boiler room” call center.
There’s an easy solution here: Don’t get involved with a total unknown selling equities or shares of an inheritance.
Usually a membership fee is required along with releasing your credit card information which may go overseas.
As a Georgia resident, you have access to a Prescription Assistance Program (PAP). Check out Georgiadrugcard.com for more information.
Credit Card Fraud
We have had several legitimate fraud calls from our credit card company. A tip-off of a scam artist calling is an offer to reverse the charge if you just provide the security code on the back of your card.
When that happens, hang up and call your credit card company. You may have to cancel your card and get a new one, but that’s better than dealing with several thousand dollars’ worth of unauthorized charges.
These may be door-to-door salespersons or by telephone. It’s very easy to donate directly to Red Cross, through your church or civic club. It never hurts to check out an organization on charitynavigator.org.
I’m always surprised at people with a Pakistani accent and a Texas name like Billy Bob or Corrie Sue who call and are “authorized by your network provider to service your computer”. These are the last people you want to give your credit card info to. If your caller ID continually shows the same number or unknown, the firm probably isn’t legit.
Answering the phone by saying “Sheriff’s Department” seems to get your number deleted quickly.
Health insurance fraud
This can hit you whether you are over or under 65. Insurers being billed for services not provided or changing the coding on billings is a huge problem. Doctors’ signatures can be forged or doctors can be bribed to sign forms certifying the need.
Since almost all claims submission and processing is automated, take these precautions:
• Do not sign blank insurance claim forms
• If at all possible, stay “in-network” on your medical insurance or Medicare supplement.
• Review your insurer’s Explanation of Benefits (EOB). Honest mistakes are often made, but miss-coding a claim can cause problems. Communicate concerns with your provider and insurer.
• Don’t do business with people who tell you your medical services or equipment will be free. I think we have all heard enough of that during the past several years.
The FBI’s website has a significant amount of information you might find useful, and I should cite their page in this article. Check it out at www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud/seniors.