We recently received an alert from the Administration for Community Living (ACL) about a reported increase in scam calls to older adults, in particular calls with scammers pretending to be from “Eldercare Locator,” “Social Security,” or “Medicare.” These callers are generally asking for personal information such as someone’s Social Security number, banking information, or Medicare number — or demanding payment, threatening jail time, or fines. These calls are harassment and often include repeat calls from the same number.
- The government will never call out of the blue and ask for a Social Security number.
- The government will never ask for payment by gift card or wire transfer.
- Social Security numbers cannot be suspended.
Some tips to keep you and others safe include:
- If you are ever suspicious about a call, hang up immediately. Find the organization’s contact information on your own (don’t use caller ID), and call or email them directly to discuss the situation.
- Never give out your Social Security number, banking information, or Medicare number to anyone who contacts you through unsolicited calls, texts, or emails.
- Never pay someone you do not know well via gift card or wire transfer.
- Never click on an email link or attachment, unless you fully trust the sender.
- Sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry.
Any suspected Medicare fraud can be reported to our California Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) at 1-855-613-7080.
Below is a comprehensive listing from ACL of other governmental entities to report various types of scams and fraud:
Older adults who are targeted by scams and fraud can call the Department of Justice’s National Elder Fraud Hotline at 833-FRAUD-11 (833-372-8311).
In addition, scams and fraud targeting people of any age can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by calling 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357) or visiting reportfraud.ftc.gov.
There are many great resources available to help raise awareness about avoiding scams:
- The Social Security Administration offers a short video on signs that someone is impersonating the Social Security Administration.
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers resources on common scams that are specifically for consumers, caregivers, and service providers.
- FTC has short videos on Social Security and IRS impostor scams.
- FTC’s “Pass It On” page has resources on many other types of scams and you can sign up for FTC scam alerts to stay up to date on new threats.
- The ACL-funded Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) program can help you learn about Medicare fraud, errors, and abuse; detect potential fraud, errors, and abuse; and report concerns. Find your state’s SMP at smpresource.org or call 1-877-808-2468. (Contact California SMP at 1-855-613-7080.)
- ACL’s National Center on Elder Abuse has many resources on elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation, including a handy one-page “The Phone Scam: What You Need to Know” flyer.