Seniors targeted by many scammers - AmericaNowNews.com

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Seniors targeted by many scammers

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    Not only is the 50-plus crowd on the internet, but they're using social networking at a new pace. Unfortunately, many online scams target the same crowd.

Seniors on Medicare are being scammed now more than ever.

79-year-old Satoru H doesn't want to be identified. Last year, crooks tried to hustle him out of personal information.

"Oh yes, yes, yes, it really bothers me," says Mr. H. The caller asked him for his Medicare number - saying she wanted to "confirm" and "verify" it. He says, "She mentioned my name, my address, my telephone number, and my doctor's name, and she said, 'Oh, you're a diabetic?' and I said, 'Why? Why do you want to know?'"

Mr. H. hung up, but the con artist called again … and again … a total of 28 times.

Someone had tried to defraud Mr. H. once before, so he knew the drill, wrote everything down, and called authorities.

"Out of the 10 top scams that target seniors, healthcare fraud is number one," says Adele Ching, Hawaii's senior Medicare patrol coordinator. She's alarmed by the growing cases of Medicare identity theft.

"Sometimes it's an inside job, where a person working in a doctor's office will get a hold of names and Medicare numbers and sell it to organized crime. Organized crime has become heavily involved in healthcare scams, because it's lucrative, it's easy to do, and the penalties are not as great as many illegal drugs," she explains.

Remember: Your Medicare number is your social security number. If someone steals it, you could be left with huge bills, ruined credit, benefits that have maxed out, and someone else's conditions and treatments on "your" medical record.

Here are some ways to protect yourself: Do not give out your social security, Medicare, or Medicaid numbers, your birth date, bank account, or any personal information - unless you're sure the call is legitimate.

If you're suspicious, get their number and call them back. Always check your Medicare summary notice, and keep a record of your healthcare services. Every time you go to the doctor, write it down. And remember, it's okay to hang up or walk away if you're uncomfortable.

And caregivers, here are some warning signs if you feel your senior is involved in a financial scam.

  • They include abrupt changes to legal papers, such as wills, deeds, and trusts
  • A change in banking patterns 
  • Unexplained disappearances of valuable possessions 
  • Secret loans to other family or friends, expensive gifts to others and unpaid bills, despite having money.

Authorities advise seniors not to fill out any raffles or contests because, if you don't win, merchants and businesses don't necessarily discard your personal information. They can sell it.  And these days, it's very easy for scammers to find at least some personal information.

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