At the age of 72, Henry was the victim of identity theft, and it all happened because of a phone call from Medicare. At least, Henry had thought he was talking to a Medicare representative when he gave his Social Security number over the telephone. It happened like this.
Henry answered the telephone and the caller said they were calling from Medicare. The caller claimed had received a medical claim for Henry and needed to verify some information so his benefits could be applied. They asked Henry a string of questions, including his Social Security Number, saying they needed to verify they were actually talking to Henry in order to protect his privacy. Unfortunately, the caller was not a Medicare representative, but a scam artist who then used Henry’s personal information to gain access to his financial accounts.
Unfortunately, Henry is far from alone in falling for this kind of scam. Hundreds of thousands of Americans fall prey to scams where the caller claims to be a government representative, such as someone calling from Medicare. Caregivers who know about these kinds of scams and how to respond can help their aging family members from being taken advantage of.
What Was Henry’s Mistake?
Henry’s big mistake was not knowing that Medicare will never call seniors and ask for any kind of personal information, including the senior’s Social Security number or Medicare account number. That sounds easy enough, but it can be tricky because scammers can spoof the phone number that shows up on the older adult’s caller ID, making it look like the call really is coming from Medicare.
What to Do When Scammers Call
One way caregivers can help their older family member to avoid being a victim of fraud is by talking to them about scams they hear about and what to do when a scammer calls. Some tips caregivers can pass on to older adults are:
- Don’t believe the caller ID. Scammers can make it look like their calls are coming from anywhere.
- Remember that Medicare will not call asking for personal information. If the senior believes they need to provide information to Medicare, they should initiate the call themselves so they know they are reaching an actual Medicare representative. The phone number for Medicare is 1-800-MEDICARE.
- When scammers call, hang up. Don’t engage them in conversation. They can be very smart and persuasive. The longer your aging relative talks to them, the greater the chance they’ll be convinced.
Caregivers should not assume that one conversation about fraud is all it will take. Instead, bring up the topic every so often as a reminder. Tell the senior about new scams you hear about, which can be a good way to initiate the conversation.
If you or an aging loved one are considering caregivers in West Houston, TX, please call the caring staff at At Your Side Home Care. We will answer all of your senior care questions. Call today: (832) 271-1600.
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