To help protect yourself and your hard-earned money and savings from fraud and scams, the AARP Fraud Watch Network provides tips each month to help you spot and avoid the most common swindles. As the weather starts to cool off, don’t be left in the cold by a scam. Here is some good advice to help keep you safe.
Beware of Becky from Medicare
For the past few months, thousands of robocalls have been hitting U.S. phone lines claiming to be “Becky, from Medicare.” And trust us, this is a conversation you’ll want to skip.
A target will receive a prerecorded call from “Becky from Medicare” and is asked to press 1 to talk to a representative to learn about free genetic testing.
For those who interact with Becky (or one of her friendly colleagues), she’ll claim they are eligible for genetic testing to screen for diseases that Medicare will pay for. They will ask for the target’s Medicare number and mailing address to send a test kit with instructions.
This is a scam, pure and simple. All these crooks want is your Medicare number so they can bill Medicare for tests, devices – whatever their flavor of the day. These fraudulent charges cost Medicare billions each year.
To protect yourself – and save taxpayer dollars - only share your Medicare number with trusted health care providers; calls out of the blue for free resources from Medicare are scams – full stop.
Smart Homes Need Smart Security
Smart homes can bring all of our systems, devices and even appliances online. If this is a route you’re taking, know that smart homes need smart security.
When setting up a new device, be sure to adjust the privacy and security settings. For any device that has a default password, change it, and do so again periodically. All of your passwords should be unique and complex. Avoid connecting your email or calendar to smart home devices, along with any other apps that store sensitive information. Also, set up each device so that any new software update uploads automatically. Updates often contain patches to protect against newly discovered vulnerabilities.
Medicare Open Enrollment Scams
It’s open enrollment season, which also means it’s Medicare fraud season. Eligible beneficiaries have until December 7 to shop for the best deal for their health care dollar. Unfortunately, some of the deals out there won’t be deals at all.
Just like in other years, Medicare scams spike during open enrollment season with scammers posing as insurance providers calling and emailing about free gifts or limited-time offers. These scams are designed to capture information to bill Medicare for bogus services and treatment.
Be suspicious of anyone who calls, emails or visits you promoting a Medicare plan. Legitimate health plans can only contact you if you’ve requested information. Don’t give personal information to anyone who calls or visits out of the blue and always review your Medicare summary notice or explanation of benefits statement for fraudulent charges.
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.
Michael Olender is the state director of AARP North Carolina. He was appointed this position after serving as Associate State Director for AARP in the Charlotte region and managing the work of AARP in communities across the state. Prior to North Carolina, Olender was the Associate State Director for AARP New York leading AARP’s work in Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island and the Lower Hudson Valley.
Prior to joining AARP in 2007 Mike worked as a community organizer in New Jersey on a variety of consumer issues including health care reform, affordable prescription drugs, utilities and other issues affecting New Jersey residents. A graduate from Rutgers University, Michael resides in Apex, North Carolina.