Attention: A Reminder Not to Take Candy from Strangers
This sounds like advice for children. We are forever worrying that they will trust the wrong person, fall for an innocent request for information and get involved in a terrible situation. It’s every parent’s nightmare.
These days, it’s every adult child’s nightmare that his or her parents will succumb to some dark and devious plot. Not only are there more retirees than ever, living longer than ever, there are perhaps more scam artists than ever. And because of the amount of information and promotions and discounts available — more than any one person could ever wade through and verify — it can be easy to get fooled into trusting the claims of a voice over the phone.
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Personal Finance: Financial scams, new and old, try to trap consumers,” from The Sacramento Bee, Sept. 8, 2013.]
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Rescuing the Elderly from Financial Fraud,” on CNN.com, Sept. 11, 2013.]
With the Affordable Care Act provisions set for deployment in January, there has been an increase in scam phone calls to “help” older people take advantage of the changes in the health-care law. The caller will identify himself as a Medicare representative, and then ask to confirm their personal information and even request bank account information — saying the program will deposit money in the account to help them pay for health-care expenses.
Also, if you go to shop for new health-care insurance plans online, be aware the federal marketplace website is heathcare.gov, and all other state-sponsored exchanges should also end in “.gov.”
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Be Aware of the Latest Health Law Cons,” from AARP, Sept. 9, 2013.]
[CLICK HERE to read the press release, “Obama administration announces a coordinated effort to protect consumers by preventing and detecting potential fraud in the health insurance marketplace,” from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Sept. 19, 2013.]
If nothing else, remember that no one from the “government” will ever call, text or email you to request your Social Security number or address. If you are approached for this information (as opposed to you initiating the call), you should certainly be aware that this is similar to a child being asked if his mommy or daddy is home. When perpetrators get their hands on this type of information, not only is it a nightmare to fix, but you may find your Social Security checks are rerouted into someone else’s hands. Your retirement income — and ultimately the lifestyle you enjoy — could be seriously derailed.
With the pick-up in the real-estate market over the last year, there’s also been an uptick in contracting scams. According to the North Carolina Department of Justice, the state experienced a 92 percent increase in complaints about construction and home repair work from 2009 to 2012. For example, a red flag that a contractor you’ve employed may not be up to snuff is if he asks for money upfront to pay for materials, as this could indicate he has bad credit.
CLICK HERE to read the article, “Home Improvement Scams to Target the Elderly,” at CaregivingCafe.com, Sept. 2013.]
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Protect Your Parents from Scams,” from AARP, Aug. 20, 2013.]
An effective way to protect yourself from potential scams is to be proactive. If someone is reaching out to you, via phone, mail or on the web, to tell you about a great offer, feel free to listen but do not act at that time. Instead, verify what you’ve learned from sources you trust. Big-ticket financial matters such as health insurance, roof repair and government benefits are too important to trust to just anyone. Contact the appropriate agency/resource to file a complaint and/ or seek out information regarding your issue.
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