Elder Fraud Isn’t Always “Stranger Danger”
When we think about scammers, we often think of “stranger danger.” A fraudulent scheme coming from overseas criminal enterprises bombarding our phones and emails with deceptive messages. The sad reality for most elders is that the financial abuse they suffer is perpetrated by someone they know.
Wednesday, June 15, is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and it’s the perfect time to remember that older adults are vulnerable to financial abuse by loved ones as well as strangers. Some warning signs include: a caregiver or family member who suddenly asks for access to your loved one’s accounts or possessions, changes in their financial practices such as new credit cards or unopened bank statements, or a financial agent who isn’t following your loved one’s wishes.
Most importantly, if you suspect abuse of any type, report it to local law enforcement right away.
Another type of scam that seniors are typically targeted with is Medicare fraud. Medicare fraud continues to ravage the program to the tune of billions of dollars a year. And while the cost to the program increases costs for beneficiaries in the form of higher premiums, much more is at stake. Your healthcare history can be affected if someone steals your number and uses it to get treatment that ends up in your file. Also, receiving “Medicare-covered” equipment or tests unknowingly from a scammer can make you ineligible for those services down the road.
The two most important things you can do to help fight Medicare fraud is to never give your Medicare number out to anyone but your trusted health care providers and always review your Medicare statement carefully and report any unauthorized charges.
Western Union Deadline Approaching
If you lost money to a scam that involved wiring money through Western Union between Jan. 1, 2004, and Jan. 19, 2017, you have until July 1 to file a claim for a refund under a settlement between the payment service and the federal government.
During roughly that time period, wire transfers were the preferred form of payment for criminal scammers and millions of people lost money through coerced transactions. Western Union admitted to lapsed oversight and agreed to forfeit $586 million to provide refunds to consumers who were deceived into using the service to send money to scammers.
If you believe you are eligible but have not been contacted by the administrator, call 855-786-1048 to request a form, or visit www.westernunionremissionphase2.com. Only victims who lost money through a Western Union wire transfer between Jan. 1, 2004, and Jan. 19, 2017 are eligible for relief.
Be a fraud fighter! If you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam.
The AARP Fraud Watch Network is a free resource for all. Learn how to proactively spot scams or get guidance if you’ve been targeted. Visit www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork or call our dedicated helpline to speak to a fraud specialist at 1-877-908-3360.
And make sure to tune into AARP Live on RFD-TV the third Thursday of every month for “Rural America Live – With AARP.”