2020 Scam Update

Scammers are a creative bunch. Their schemes get smarter and more sophisticated every year.

While anyone could fall for a scam, seniors face a greater risk. Twenty percent of Americans over 65 have been financially taken advantage of and over 80% of telemarketing scams prey on victims over the age of 60. Fraudsters scam more than $45 billion from seniors every single year. That’s a scary statistic.

Here’s the latest roundup of scams targeting seniors.

PHONE SCAMS

IRS Con: These IRS impersonations are among the most common phone scams—and many unsuspecting seniors fall for them. If you get a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and that person is asking for personal information, it is a scam. The IRS never calls people. They always communicate with a letter sent via U.S. mail. If you get a call from the IRS hang up immediately.

Jury Duty Trick: Thieves have been known to impersonate government officials with the claim that you have missed your jury duty. They will most likely ask you to provide your Social Security Number (SSN) to prove your identity. It may seem like a no-brainer not to provide this information over the phone, but these criminals can be convincing. A government worker will never ask you to give your SSN over the phone or behave in an aggressive manner. If anyone asks you for your SSN over the phone, hang up.

EMAIL SCAMS

Lottery/Contest/Unclaimed Money Scam: With this type of scam, phishers will send you an email claiming that you’ve won some sort of prize. Have you really won a prize? No! They just want your bank account number so they can take your money. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is! Look at the email’s “to” address. If it is not yours, the email is most likely part of a generic scam targeting thousands. Your best bet is to delete any emails claiming you won a prize in a contest you didn’t enter.

Bank/PayPal Scam: In this trending scam, you get an email from “PayPal” or your financial institution that your account has been compromised. Beware! The email is most likely from a scammer who has created an email that looks just like the bank you do business with. These emails often look legitimate, and many seniors take the bait. How can you tell if the email is real? The sender’s email address is often the giveaway. It will most likely be slightly off from a legitimate email from the institution. Even if the email looks legitimate, avoid clicking on links in emails. Your best bet is to open your web browser, enter the URL, and go directly to their site to find their contact information. You can always call the company direct to verify the email you received.

SOFTWARE SCAMS

Remote Access Scam: Fraudsters will often call or email you asking for “remote access” to your computer so they can upgrade your software or a fix technical problem. This is always, always, always a scam. Don’t ever grant permission. The scammers are looking to steal your data or install malware to your computer.

Anti-Virus Scam: If you get an email that directs you to a website that warns you of “bugs” on your computer, delete it. Scammers are trying to get you to pay for unnecessary software, or they may install malware onto your computer.

MEDICARE SCAMS

It’s almost open enrollment time for more than 60 million Medicare participants, which marks the opening of Medicare scam season. Medicare open enrollment for 2021 coverage begins on October 15 and ends on December 7. Scammers turn up the volume on their creativity this time of year. If you’re a Medicare beneficiary, watch out for these scams:

Sign-Up Scheme: You receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from Medicare. They say you need to provide your Medicare number or credit card information in order to sign up for a plan. HANG UP! Medicare NEVER calls beneficiaries to sign up.

Update Fraud: Other tricksters are calling asking for consumers to update their information with the new Medicare number. DO NOT give out your new Medicare ID. Even though it is no longer your social security number, it still needs to be protected.

Billing Bilk: You get a phone call from a representative claiming to be from Medicare, asking you to confirm or update billing information. HANG UP! Medicare will not call you and they will not ask for payment over the phone or through email.

Prescription Plug: If someone calls trying to sell you a prescription drug plan, hang up!  Part D is NOT mandatory.

Cancellation Threat: If someone asks you for your personal information, for money or threatens to cancel your health benefits if you don’t share your personal details, hang up and call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

The best place for information is online at Medicare.gov, calling Medicare at 1-800-Medicare or SHIP (TN State Health Insurance Assistance Program) at 1-877-801-0044. SHIP offers free and unbiased Medicare information and counseling.

Stay vigilant, everyone!

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