Do’s & Don’ts to Avoid Fraud

Do’s & Don’ts to Avoid Fraud

While our Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) focuses on Medicare fraud and ways to protect yourself, detect and report health care fraud, there are also many other types of scams out there. One of our partners in the Stop Senior Scams℠ Acting Program, Sherry McCoy recently published some helpful tips to follow that can help you and your loved ones avoid fraud.

  • It’s never a good idea to send money to someone you don’t know. Likewise, you should never pay a fee in advance in order to claim a prize, get a loan or a grant, or get a job.
  • Never wire money to strangers; to any sellers that insist upon wire transfers as a means of payment for their services or products; or to anyone claiming to be a friend or relative in an emergency who also wants you to keep the request a secret.
  • Pay close attention to your bank and credit card account statements. Watch for any suspicious charges for goods or services that you have not authorized. If you see any such charges, notify your bank or creditor.
  • If you want to donate to a charity in the aftermath of a disaster, it’s best to give money to established charities rather than those that have popped-up overnight. Pop-up charities may not have a strong infrastructure to get help to the people who need it, and they could be collecting money for illegal purposes.  For more tips on donating to charities, see the Federal Trade Commission’s page on Charity Scams.
  • Contact your health care practitioner before you purchase health products or treatments. Make sure you find out about any research that supports the product or treatment, and be aware of any risks or side effects. Also, it’s a good idea to purchase your prescription drugs from licensed U.S. pharmacies only. Otherwise, you leave yourself open to the possibility of buying expired drugs, fake drugs, or drugs that may have been mislabeled.
  • Be mindful that there is always a risk involved with investments – there are no guarantees. Stay away from low-risk, high return investment opportunities, especially if you are pressured to act right away; send cash immediately; or guaranteed a big payoff with minimal or no financial risks. Report these at ftc.gov.
  • Do not respond to phone calls, emails or text messages that ask for personal or financial information. In addition, don’t click on any links or call any phone numbers that may be included in these messages.  Scammers are hoping you will respond to their inquiries so they can steal your identity.

If you have been the victim or the target of any scam, contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at 877-382-4357 or onlineFor Medicare fraud, call our Senior Medicare Patrol at 855-613-7080.

Remember:  You may be a target, but you don’t have to be a victim!

Our blogger Karen J. Fletcher is CHA's publications consultant. She provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare, health disparities and other health care issues. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she serves in health advocacy as a trainer and consultant. See her current articles.