2 Health Care Scams That Target Seniors

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when con artists started doing their thing; what’s certain is that it was centuries before any of us were born. They persist even today, living in the shadows and preying on people in ways that are often despicable and difficult to predict.

Unfortunately, most scam artists know exactly who to target for the best results --- usually our most vulnerable, including senior citizens. When they run scams about health care, it is even more awful and heartbreaking. These scammers fight dirty by taking advantage of the technological and generational gap, exploiting the usual trusting nature of seniors to gain access to their money, health insurance, or identity.

But the news isn’t all bad; there are ways to fight back.

When it comes to fighting health care scams that target seniors, knowledge really is half the battle. Senior citizens need to have the right tools and information to fight back. Even just recognizing these 2 common scams adds a layer of protection against harm...

1. The Internet’s “Too Good to be True” Prescription Drug Prices

Frugality is all well and good for your clothes, books, gifts and groceries, but that same mindset can be dangerous when it comes to your mom’s prescription medications. Websites that offer incredible discounts are almost always too good to be true.

Black market online pharmacies may claim to sell the same prescriptions as your local pharmacy, but this is rarely the case. The drugs they sell may be counterfeit, poorly or illegally made, illegally imported, or even laden with toxic ingredients that cause direct harm.

If your or your beloved parents are purchasing from online pharmacies to help them cut costs, do some digging. Find out the who, what, where, when, and why they are getting their meds. If you’re concerned or suspicious, ask for the pharmacy’s license. If they can’t provide it, don’t let them use the drugs.

If you or your parents are going to buy medication from online pharmacies you might want to familiarize yourself with this FDA resource and the The Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP). CSIP can help you verify the validity of your online pharmacy.

2. Stolen Healthcare and Benefit Scams

In a country where healthcare comes at a premium, it should come as no surprise that some unscrupulous individuals may attempt to steal information or access to benefits. Seniors, unfortunately, are easy targets for healthcare fraudsters because they’re more likely to trust them if they call or reach out via email requesting information.

Your mom or dad may get a telephone call from someone claiming to be from Medicare who then asks to “confirm” policy information... suddenly, they’ve stolen your parent's entire identity in one swift move. This is medical identity theft and you and your parents should educate yourself about this before it happens. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides a few very good tips that you should review, so does the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and Association of Mature American Citizens (AMAC).

The very same fraudsters will often use that identity information to access healthcare services or set up accounts that bill to senior insurance plans. When it’s time for mom’s or dad's next appointment they could discover their coverage is already used. If you've already become a victim of medical identity theft, then IdentityTheft.gov is a good place to start the recovery process to make things right

The best advice we have is to make sure that your parents know NOT to give out their personal information over the phone or via email. Communicate with them about these types of scams and help them navigate technology hurdles. Make sure they know not to click on links within emails they receive, especially if those emails "seem" to be from their bank, credit card company, etc.

Let them know to always ask you about these types of communication before taking any action. Be patient with them as you help them understand how these scams can work. Keeping them safe from scams is also keeping them more healthy in their golden years.

Please consider the resources below to further your education on these scams and what can be done about them...

Other Helpful Resources:

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0394-suspect-health-care-scam

https://amac.us/the-dangers-of-medical-id-theft/

https://www.insurancefraud.org/scam-alerts-fake-health.htm

https://www.healthcare.gov/how-can-i-protect-myself-from-fraud-in-the-health-insurance-marketplace/

https://www.nhcaa.org/resources/health-care-anti-fraud-resources/consumer-alert-dont-be-scammed.aspx

http://www.fraud.org/medical_id_theft

https://www.insurancefraud.org/scam-alerts-medical-id-theft.htm

8/6/2020 7:00:00 AM
Wellness Editor
Written by Wellness Editor
Wellness Exists to Empower Health Conscious Consumers. Wellness.com helps people live healthier, happier and more successful lives by connecting them with the best health, wellness and lifestyle information and resources on the web.
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