Far too many older adults fall prey to scammers who are looking to make a quick buck. Here are 22 tips that can help you steer clear of scams and swindles and to stay safe.
Health insurance fraud
- Never sign blank insurance claim forms.
- Never give blanket permission 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.
- Carefully review your insurer’s explanation of the benefits statement. 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.
- Know if your physician ordered equipment for you.
- Protect your Medicare number as you do your credit card numbers and do not allow anyone other than trusted health providers to use it.
- Be wary of salespeople trying to sell you something they claim will be paid for by Medicare.
- Review your Medicare Summary Notices to be sure you have in fact received the services billed.
- Report suspicious activities to 1-800-MEDICARE or your local Senior Medicare Patrol.
- Don’t buy from an unfamiliar company. You can learn more about reputable companies from the Better Business Bureau.
- Always ask for and wait until you receive written material about any offer or charity.
- Obtain a salesperson’s name, business identity, telephone number, street address, mailing address, and business license number before you transact business.
- Always take your time in making a decision.
- If you have information about a fraud, report it to state, local, or federal law enforcement agencies.
Home repair or contractor fraud
- Be an informed consumer. Take the time to call and shop around before making a purchase. Take a friend with you who may offer some perspective to help you make difficult decisions.
- Carefully read all contracts and purchasing agreements before signing and make certain that all of your requirements have been put in writing.
- Make sure you understand all contract cancellation and refund terms.
- As a general rule take control of all of your transactions as a consumer.
- Do not allow yourself to be pressured into making purchases, signing contracts, or committing funds. These decisions are yours and yours alone.
Learn more about scams and how to avoid them in our Savvy Saving Seniors® toolkits.
If you suspect you’ve encountered financial abuse…
Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to talk about it with someone you trust. You are not alone, and there are people who can help. Doing nothing could only make it worse. Keep handy the phone numbers and resources you can turn to, including the local police, your bank (if money has been taken from your accounts), and Adult Protective Services. To obtain the contact information for Adult Protective Services in your area, call the Eldercare Locator, a government sponsored national resource line, at: 1-800-677-1116, or visit their website at: https://eldercare.acl.gov.
Also, be sure to check out our 8 tips to protect yourself from becoming a scam victim.