The past two blogs have outlined why seniors are targeted, what signs to watch for, and some common schemes. Now for the truly important info: How to prevent elder fraud from happening and what to do if it does happen!
- Report actual or attempted elder fraud (or any type of fraud) via Fraud.org’s Online Complaint Form.
- Change the phone number if a senior is receiving excessive sales calls.
- Change the bank account or credit card numbers if they have fallen into the hands of thieves.
- Avoid getting on sucker lists. Don’t fill out contest entry forms at fairs or malls—they are a common source of “leads” for con artists. Ask companies you do business with not to share your personal information with other marketers.
- Know your “Do-Not-Call” rights. Under federal law, you can tell a telemarketer not to call you again and you can file a complaint on the Do Not Call website.
- Make sure you know the company you are dealing with. If it’s an unfamiliar company or charity, check it out with your state or local consumer protection agency and the Better Business Bureau.
- Screen your calls. Use an answering machine, Caller ID, or other services that may be available from your phone company to help you determine who you want to talk to and who you want to avoid.
- Never sign blank insurance claim forms.
- Never give blanket authorization to a medical provider to bill for services rendered.
- Ask your medical providers what they will charge and what you will be expected to pay out-of-pocket. Get it in writing.
- Carefully review your insurer’s explanation of the benefits statement. Get an annual “Benefits Request Checkup” from your insurance provider to see a list of all benefits and services paid in your name. Call your insurer and provider if you have questions.
- Do not do business with door-to-door or telephone salespeople who tell you that services of medical equipment are free.
- Give your insurance/Medicare identification only to those who have provided you with medical services.
- Keep accurate records of all health care appointments.
- Use caution when purchasing drugs on the Internet. Do not purchase medications from unlicensed online distributors or those who sell medications without a prescription. Reputable online pharmacies will have a seal of approval called the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site (VIPPS), provided by the Association of Boards of Pharmacy in the United States.
- Always ask for and wait until you receive written material about any offer or charity. If you get brochures about costly investments, ask someone whose financial advice you trust to review them. Remember, even a classy brochure can be a hoax!
- Always take your time making a decision. Legitimate companies won’t pressure you to make a snap decision.
- Don’t pay for a “free prize.” If a caller tells you the payment is for taxes or shipping fees, he or she is violating federal law.
- Never send money or give out personal information such as credit card numbers and expiration dates, bank account numbers, dates of birth, or social security numbers to unfamiliar companies or unknown persons.
- Get a second opinion! When filling out important forms or making a big financial decision, ask someone you trust to look it over and talk it over before giving away any personal information.
- Get help when using the internet, especially concerning financial transactions. NEVER give out personal information such as SS numbers or credit card information. Remember that older grandkids make great resources when it comes to using the Internet because they are true digital natives.
Remember, you’ve worked hard to reach a point where you can enjoy your golden years. Don’t let someone else enjoy the fruits of your labor. Be vigilant and be protected!
John Sileo is an author and highly engaging speaker on business fraud, internet privacy, identity theft and technology security. He is CEO of The Sileo Group, which helps organizations to protect the privacy that drives their profitability. His recent engagements include presentations at The Pentagon, Visa, Homeland Security and Northrop Grumman as well as media appearances on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper and Fox Business. Contact him directly on 800.258.8076.