where you can get quick tips on how to prevent Medicare scams.
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An effort to help prevent medical identity theft is one part of the Obama Administration’s work to crack down on Medicare fraud. Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the creation of a new interagency effort, the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), to combat Medicare fraud. The HEAT team includes senior officials from DOJ and HHS.
A new tips and a printable brochure have been produced by the HHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and are available now at www.StopMedicareFraud.gov and www.oig.hhs.gov/fraud/idtheft.
Blank Checks from your Credit Card Company can be Risky
A recent issue of “FDIC Consumer News” (Spring, 2009) highlights the risks of using blank checks, sometimes called “convenience checks” sent by your credit card company.
First and foremost, be certain you understand all the fees and interest charges you will pay if you use the checks.
Secondly, there are dangers for these checks could be stolen or taken from you and used against your credit card.
• If you throw away the checks without shredding or destroying them, thieves may rummage through trash at your home or at the landfill to fish them out.
• Other people in your home or visitors to your home (for instance home aides or repair workers) could take these checks and use them against your account.
Consider asking the credit card issuer to stop mailing the convenience checks if you are certain you don’t want to use them. SMP contacted one large credit union which issues these checks to their credit card customers and we were told they would be able to assist a customer who didn’t wish to use such checks.
$250 Economic Recovery Payments to Arrive May, 2009
If you are receiving a Social Security, SSI, Railroad Retirement or Veterans benefits now, you’ll receive a special, one- time $250 payment by the end of May. If you receive your monthly benefits by direct deposit, the $250 will come to your bank account or if you receive a check in the mail each month, the $250 will be sent in a check.
We expect scam artists will jump on this opportunity to defraud retired people. If they contact you they’ll try to convince you that in order to receive the money, you have to give out your personal information, including your bank account information.
• Don’t talk to anyone calling on the phone, asking for your personal information.
• Don’t respond to any letters that ask you to write down your personal information and send it in. You will get a letter from the government telling you the payment is coming, but you do not have to respond to the letter.
• Don’t respond to any e-mail sent to you, asking you to click on a link to provide information.
If you have friends or family who are nursing home residents, please note that they will receive this payment as well, unless their only income is the limited $30 SSI payment or if they live in a government –owned facility. If you need more information you can contact your local Social Security office or look at the Social Security website in the “Economic Recovery One-time Payments” section.
Dec. 31, 2008 Grandparent Scam Calls in Iowa
If you receive a call from someone stating they are your grandchild, don’t let them convince you to give out one of your grandchildren’s names. Tell them you are going to check with another relative before your respond to them. Or ask them to verify some information about a special family memory that only your family would know. And if you hang up your phone and immediately press *57 (or 1157 from a rotary phone), your phone company will record the phone number from which the call was placed. This is referred to as “call tracing.” Then, call your local police department or sheriff’s office to report the scam attempt and tell them you used the *57 function to trace the call. You won’t be able to obtain the number from the phone company but law enforcement officers will, if they are able to pursue an investigation. If you wire money and then discover the call was a fraud, contact your local police or sheriff immediately to report the details. Tell your friends and neighbors to be alert for these calls.
Iowa Legal Aid Look-alikes
Iowa Legal Aid encourages older Iowans seeking legal assistance to phone the Legal Hotline for Older Iowans at 1-800-992-8161 instead of using the Internet to search for legal assistance in Iowa. Iowa Legal Aid has notified all Area Agencies on Aging on Iowa to warn seniors about Internet searches that might lead you to legal services that charge an up-front fee to review your inquiry. If you are age 60 or older you can contact the toll free Hotline for Older Iowans to ask for advice about noncriminal legal matters. If you are determined to be qualified for assistance from Iowa Legal Aid, you will NOT be charged any fees.
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