Latest Information on Scams and Reported Fraud
Genetic Testing Fraud Aimed at Medicare Beneficiaries Sweeps State, Nation
Across the nation – including in the state of Connecticut – genetic testing company representatives are offering “free” genetic tests to Medicare beneficiaries. While this may sound harmless, in reality it is dangerous. These companies can steal people’s medical identity and falsely bill Medicare, draining the system of needed funds.
Scams targeting those on Medicare
Scammers like the ones in this story in Oklahoma pretend to be from Medicare and attempt to get personal information from beneficiaries everyday. The CT Senior Medicare Patrol wants people to know fraud attempts are likely to increase with the new Medicare Cards people will be mailed between April 2018 and April 2019. Some Connecticut residents will begin to receive their new cards in the mail sometime after June. People on Medicare should be weary of anyone asking for their personal information. Scammers are posing as Social Security and Medicare claiming they need to update information so they can receive their new card. Neither Medicare or Social Security will contact people with Medicare making this request. Protect yourself and get educated on the new Medicare Card roll out.
IRS Impersonator Scammers are at it again
Over a year ago scammers were claiming to be the IRS using fear as a tactic. The scammer would threaten callers with the fear of being sued if they did not send money immediately. In some cases it was reported the caller was impersonating a police officer. Now in February 2018, scammers are using hope and excitement as a tactic telling callers they will be getting a huge increase in their social security income.
The City of New Haven Department of Elderly Services has received many calls on the scam and reports the scam works as follows: a senior citizen will receive a phone call from an individual who claims to be from the Social Security Administration. The caller says the senior is entitled to a huge increase in his or her Social Security benefit payment. All he or she has to do is supply the caller with a Social Security Number and birthdate. It’s a simple scam, and yet it has been reported that many seniors have fallen prey to it.
Calls like this are meant to strike strong emotions in the caller to cloud their judgment and get important personal information. If you receive a call like this do not provide any personal information and hang up. If you have concerns you owe the IRS you can contact them directly at 1-800-829-1040.
If someone has provided a Scammer impersonating the IRS with personal or sensitive information report it at https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml or call 1-800-366-4484.
Did You Know? The United States Postal Inspection Service Fights Fraud Against the Elderly:
The U.S.Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) is committed to protecting seniors from telemarketing and mail fraud scheme. The agency has several resources designed to educate and inform consumers about mail fraud, including a fraud against older Americans dedicated webpage. USPIS has also introduced a new website that provides information about the ways consumers can avoid falling victim to scams involving counterfeit checks, visit www.FakeChecks.org for more information.
Disasters Breed Fraudulent Charities
Over the years as major natural disasters or tragic events occur, scammers use these tragedies as an opportunity to take money from those who want to come to the aid of those in need. The Better Business Bureau reports that you can always count on two things –“The first is the generosity of Americans to donate time and money to help victims and the second is the appearance of poorly run and in some cases fraudulent charities.” It is important that consumers ensure that their donations will go to “legitimate and reputable charities and relief efforts that have the capability to help those in need.”
The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance offers the following seven tips to help consumers decide where to direct donations:
- Rely on expert opinion when it comes to evaluating a charity. Be cautious when relying on third-party recommendations such as bloggers or other Web sites, as they might not have fully researched the listed relief organizations. The public can go to give.org to research charities and relief organizations to verify that they are accredited by the BBB and meet the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.
- Be cautious about online giving, especially in response to spam messages and emails that claim to link to a relief organization.
- Find out if the charity has an on-the-ground presence in the disaster impact areas. Unless the charity already has staff in the affected areas, it may be difficult to get new aid workers to quickly provide assistance. See if the charity’s website clearly describes what they can do to address immediate needs.
- Find out if the charity is providing direct aid or raising money for other groups. Some charities may be raising money to pass along to relief organizations. If so, you may want to consider “avoiding the middleman” and giving directly to charities that have a presence in the region. Or, at a minimum, check out the ultimate recipients of these donations to ensure the organizations are equipped to effectively provide aid.
- Be wary of claims that 100 percent of donations will assist relief victims. Despite what an organization might claim, charities have fund raising and administrative costs. Even a credit card donation will involve, at a minimum, a processing fee. If a charity claims that 100 percent of collected funds will be assisting earthquake victims, the truth is that the organization is still probably incurring fund raising and administrative expenses. They may use some of their other funds to pay this, but the expenses will still be incurred.
- Gifts of clothing, food or other in-kind donations. In-kind drives for food and clothing—while well intentioned— may not necessarily be the quickest way to help those in need - unless the organization has the staff and infrastructure to be able to properly distribute such aid. Ask the charity about their transportation and distribution plans.
- Be wary of those who are not experienced in disaster relief assistance.
- Look for details when texting a donation. Beginning with
the earthquake in Haiti back in 2010, it’s become common to send a text to make
a donation. Make sure you understand the amount to be donated, and whether there
will be any service fees charged to your account. Be sure the offer clearly
identifies which charity will receive the donation, then check out the charity.
Tips on Avoiding Fraudulent Charitable Contribution Email Schemes
Before making a donation of any kind, consumers should adhere to certain guidelines when online:
- Do not respond to unsolicited (SPAM) e-mail.
- Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as officials soliciting via e-mail for donations.
- Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.
- Be cautious of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
- To ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.
- Validate the legitimacy of the organization by directly accessing the recognized charity or aid organization's website rather than following an alleged link to the site.
- Attempt to verify the legitimacy of the non-profit status of the organiation by using various Internet-based resources, which also may assist in confirming the actual existence of the organization.
- Do not provide personal or financial information to
anyone who solicits contributions: providing such information may compromise
your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
If you are a victim of an online scheme, please notify the Ic3 by filing a complaint at www.IC3.gov.