Berge & Berge, LLP Blog

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Education Is Best Method to Avoid Senior Scams

What should I know to avoid being victimized by a senior scam artist?

There are many types of scams directed at seniors and there seem to be more all the time. In order to protect yourself and your loved ones, the best thing you can do is familiarize yourself with the various fraudulent schemes that abound. After all, forewarned is forearmed.

Types of Scams and How to Avoid Them

Health Insurance Fraud

Because health insurance becomes more and more essential as we age, and because the many type of  policies and related regulations can be very confusing, it is an area frequently targeted by scam artists. Here are some ways to avoid being victimized:

  • Never sign blank insurance claim forms
  • Carefully review any insurer's explanation of benefits statements
  • Question any perceived discrepancies on forms you receive
  • Do not do business with door-to-door salespeople
  • Understand what portion of your medical provider payments will be out-of-pocket
  • Only give Medicare or insurance identification information to medical providers
  • Keep accurate records of medical services and equipment you receive

 Medicare Scams

Remember to protect your Medicare number as you do other sensitive personal information.  Keep yourself from being victimized by Medicare scam artists by:

  • Not allowing anyone else to use your Medicare number
  • Being cautious if a merchant tries to sell you something supposedly reimbursable
  • Review Medicare statements to make sure they are correct
  • Report suspicious activities to 1-800-MEDICARE

Telemarketing Scams

Older people, who are more likely to be at home and eager for a distraction, may be more easily victimized by telemarketers. Take the following steps to protect yourself:

  • Don't order from a company that contacts you by phone, especially an unfamiliar one
  • Always request written material before making a charitable contribution
  • Always take time to consider --spur of the moment decisions are risky
  • Know the name, business address, and phone number of whomever you deal with
  • Report any fraudulent scheme to local law enforcement, state or federal authorities

Home Repair or Contractor Fraud

Another type of fraud perpetrated against seniors involves home repair or construction. In order to protect yourself from fraudulent contractors and service providers, do the following:

  • Check references
  • Consult with family members,trusted neighbors or friends
  • Take the time to make an informed decision
  • Read all contracts carefully before you sign them
  • Be aware of your options regarding refunds and cancellations

If you or an elderly loved one has been taken advantage of by a scam artist, the worst thing you can do is to do nothing. Don't hesitate to report fraudulent schemes to Adult Protective Services or law enforcement agencies. To further protect yourself, contact a skilled elder care attorney in your location.

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