Seven ways to avoid the health scams targeting seniors

fbiThe FBI did a presentation in November for AARP that had some valuable information that can help older adults. In working with seniors now, I often seen many of these scams played out and work to undo and recoup money that has been siphoned away through exploitation.

The majority of senior scams start when the individual offers up their medicare number or credit card information. Nothing was stolen, it was actually given away. For this reason, I suggest that loved ones and family consider how to offer support.

Most seniors will not share the fact that they were exploited due to embarrassment as well as fear that their control over their own life will be taken away … even by well-meaning family. I know, because my family experienced it. We saw a variety of different ploys that impacted our parents financially. I started by trying to work in tandem with mom who was “in charge” of paying the bills. It takes lot more time to do in tandem. Thankfully, my dad helped navigate the issues since he knew mom was struggling.

Eventually, when money just caused anxiety for mom, I started handling the finances and would just give her a quick, positive report to assuage her concerns. If you aren’t local and don’t have the time, consider hiring a Daily Money Manager. They can help your loved one stay independent, but benefit from their expertise to avoid frauds and scams. You can research local resources at the American Association of Daily Money Management here.

In terms of health fraud, the FBI recommends:

  1. Never sign blank insurance claim forms
  2. Ask your medical providers what they will charge and what you will be expected to pay
  3. Review your insurance benefits statement
  4. Don’t work with door-to-door or telephone salespeople who tell you that services or medical equipment are free (check out a related post on the subtle abuse you might not notice that discusses these “free” offers — they are never without a cost.)
  5. Only give your insurance information to medical service providers; if asked for your insurance number in exchange for money report it!
  6. Keep accurate records of your health care appointments
  7. Be weary of rolling labs found at health clubs, retirement homes, and in parking lots.  You are offered a free or low cost tests which may be totally unnecessary and possibly fake. You give them your Medicare or other insurance information which is what they want. Once they have your name, they may bill for services that were never performed. You may not know it, but you’ve participated in a fraud.

I am constantly surprised at the amount of energy and effort, as well as complicity, involved in these efforts to exploit money from older adults. The best defense is a good offense. I hope this gives you an idea on how to help a loved one that needs it. Convinced.

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