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Tips for Avoiding Scams & Swindles

NCOA, National Council on Aging - 22 Tips for Avoiding Scams & Swindles

Far too many older adults fall prey to scammers who are looking to make a quick buck. Here are 22 tips that can help you steer clear of them and stay safe.

Health Insurance Fraud:

  • Never sign blank insurance claim forms.
  • Never give blanket permission to a medical provider to bill for services rendered.
  • Ask your medical providers what they will charge and what you will be expected to pay out-of-pocket.
  • Carefully review your insurer’s explanation of the benefits statement. Call your insurer and provider if you have questions.
  • Do not do business with door-to-door or telephone salespeople who tell you that services of medical equipment are free.
  • Give your insurance/Medicare identification only to those who have provided you with medical services.
  • Keep accurate records of all health care appointments.
  • Know if your physician ordered equipment for you.

Medicare Scams:

  • Protect your Medicare number as you do your credit card numbers and do not allow anyone else to use it.
  • Be wary of salespeople trying to sell you something they claim will be paid for by Medicare.
  • Review your Medicare statements to be sure you have in fact received the services billed.
  • Report suspicious activities to 1-800-MEDICARE.

Telemarketing Scams:

  • Don’t buy from an unfamiliar company.
  • Always ask for and wait until you receive written material about any offer or charity.
  • Obtain a salesperson’s name, business identity, telephone number, street address, mailing address, and business license number before you transact business.
  • Always take your time in making a decision.
  • If you have information about a fraud, report it to state, local, or federal law enforcement agencies.

Home Repair or Contractor Fraud:

  • Be an informed consumer. Take the time to call and shop around before making a purchase. Take a friend with you who may offer some perspective to help you make difficult decisions.
  • Carefully read all contracts and purchasing agreements before signing and make certain that all of your requirements have been put in writing.
  • Make sure you understand all contract cancellation and refund terms.
  • As a general rule take control of all of your transactions as a consumer.
  • Do not allow yourself to be pressured into making purchases, signing contracts, or committing funds. These decisions are yours and yours alone.

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