Opinion

How to protect yourself from scams | Bellevue Network on Aging

By The Bellevue Network On Aging

While persons of all ages may fall for scams, seniors are often targets of fraud due to their availability at home, their financial situation, loneliness and/or increased vulnerability.

The new Health Care Act has given rise to additional Medicare fraud. Scammers phone seniors regarding new Medicare cards, yet new cards are not required under the act. Other con-artists charge fees to “assist” Medicare beneficiaries who fall into the Medicare Part D Doughnut Hole to obtain their $250 rebate. But, the government rebate processes is automatic.

Fortunately, Washington residents can call SHIBA in the State Insurance Commissioner’s Office, 1-800-562-6900, for accurate information.

Charities, too, can be a problem. Con artists lead contributors to believe they are donating to worthy causes such as orphans, disabled veterans or victims of a natural disaster. Washington requires most charities to register with the Secretary of State. Information available includes the percentage of contributions that are actually spent on the organization’s charitable purpose versus administrative costs. Before contributing, check whether the entity is registered with the state at 1-360-725-0378.

Other common types of fraud are:

Prize or sweepstake scams. You are notified you have won a large sum of money, but to collect your first need to send in fees, taxes and other charges;

Identity Theft. Someone obtains your Social Security number or other personal information and uses it to make purchases in your name, or withdrawals from your bank, credit card, or medical services accounts.

To help protect yourself from Identity Theft and fraud: a) Obtain your free annual credit reports from Experian, Equinox and transition, 1-877-322-8228, b) Do not use an unlocked mailbox, c) Shred all documents containing personal and financial information, and d) Do not give your Social Security number, financial information or personal information to strangers who contact you or to others, who do not need it.

If you are a victim of fraud, it is important to file a report with your local police department and to get a copy of the report.

For additional information contact: Washington state’s Attorney General 1-800-551-4636 or go online; AARP’s Fraud Fighter Call Center 1-800-646-2283.

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