Every year in the U.S., millions of seniors fall prey to scams and fraud. Healthcare fraud is one of the most common scams that disreputable businesses use to target seniors. The Federal Bureau of Investigation shares that scammers are masters at exploiting the trust of others.
Americans who grew up between 1930 and 1950 were generally raised to be polite and trusting, making them ideal prey for scammers. Older people are also more likely to have a nest egg, which makes them even more attractive to con artists.
Seniors in assisted living in Orlando are less likely to be targeted by scammers, but that doesn’t mean they should let their guard down. Con artists are masters at figuring out how to contact people, using phone calls, mail, email, and even dating sites to get their foot in the door.
Types of Health Fraud
Seniors are the focus of health fraud because they are the largest consumers of healthcare products. Con artists take advantage of the fact that older Americans are less likely to be savvy at identifying fraud and that, in general, seniors can have a difficult time saying no. Scammers often portray themselves as kind and sympathetic people who only want to help.
Some of the main types of healthcare frauds seniors need to be aware of include:
- Medical equipment scams that offer “free” products
- Insurance billing for services that were not performed
- “Rolling labs” that give unnecessary tests at fitness centers, malls, and other locations where seniors congregate
- Medicare fraud – unscrupulous medical supply companies offering free items in exchange for Medicare account information
Anyone can fall victim to fraud, especially seniors who live alone or don’t have anyone to advocate for them. Living in a Winter Park assisted living facility that provides on-site security and lifelong learning classes may decrease a senior’s chances of being contacted by fraudsters. Having knowledgeable staff on-hand for seniors to talk to also provides an extra layer of protection.
Assisted Living in Orlando: Tips for Avoiding Health Fraud
Remember that con artists know how to take advantage of your trust. They may represent themselves as helpful and empathic people who only have your best interests at heart. They may also be threatening by doing or saying things that make you feel unsafe.
The following tips can help you avoid being caught in a scam:
Protect Your Data
Protecting your personal data is the number-one way to protect yourself from scammers. Never give your personal identification number (PIN) for banking or other accounts to another person. Likewise, do not share your Social Security number or any account information with any unfamiliar people.
Flip the Script
The AARP suggests keeping a “refusal script” next to your phone. Saying no can be hard for many seniors, so being prepared with a script to read from can help. Your script may say something like, “No, thank you, I am not interested. I don’t make financial decisions without consulting my accountant or lawyer.”
Secure Your Cards
Keep your Medicare card secure. Provide only trusted health care providers with your card number. Never do business with a door-to-door vendor or telemarketer trying to sell or give away medical goods or medical services.
Check the Number
Do a reverse phone number search if you get a call from a medical provider you are unsure about. You can quickly determine where the person is calling from and if they are legitimate. When in doubt, ask for a number where you can call them back. Most scammers will not provide any call-back information.
If you suspect you have been the victim of health fraud, call your insurance company. If you are in assisted living in Orlando, report your concerns to the facility director. If you are being targeted, other members of your community may also be at risk.