These fraud alerts are issued by the York County Elder Abuse Task Force.
Educating seniors about financial fraud is a top priority of the York County Elder Abuse Task Force. With that in mind, we want every senior in York County to remember the 3 Rs: Recognize a potential scam; Refuse to make any hasty decisions; and Report suspicious activity to police.
Stay safe and feel free to contact Area Agency at 717 771 9610 or the District Attorney’s Office 717-771-9600 with any questions.
Offers to Increase Your Social Security Benefits
That unexpected offer from the Social Security Administration (SSA) to activate a benefit increase is from a criminal and not the real SSA. Do not share personal or financial information. Do not click on links or respond. Report suspected scams to oig.ssa.gov/report.
Criminals continue to impersonate SSA and other government agencies in an attempt to obtain personal information, money, or download malware onto phones. Recent reports indicate that criminals are trying to trick people into sharing personal and financial information over the phone or through deceptive text and email messages that lure recipients to a fake Social Security website.
Criminals falsely advise recipients to apply to receive Social Security benefits or extra money, such as a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), or to set up an online account. The message may also provide fake contact information for SSA.
HOW A GOVERNMENT IMPOSTER SCAM WORKS
Recognizing the signs of a scam can help you avoid falling victim to one. These scams primarily use telephone to contact you, but scammers may also use email, text message, social media, or U.S. mail.
- Scammers pretend to be from an agency or organization you know to gain your trust.
- Scammers say there is a problem or a prize.
- Scammers pressure you to act immediately. Scammers tell you to pay in a specific way.
TIPS TO PROTECT YOURSELF
1. Do not take immediate action. If you receive a communication that causes a strong emotional response, take a deep breath. Hang up or ignore the message. Talk to someone you trust.
2. Do not transfer your money! Do not buy that gift card! Never pay someone who insists that you pay with a gift card, prepaid debit card, Internet currency or cryptocurrency, wire transfer, money transfer, or by mailing cash. Scammers use these forms of payment because they are hard to trace.
3. Be skeptical. Do not believe scammers who “transfer” your call to a government official or law enforcement officer, or who feed you a number as proof. Scammers can create fake numbers and identities. Do not trust your caller ID.
4. Be cautious of any contact claiming to be from a government agency or law enforcement, telling you about a problem you don’t recognize or an unsolicited offer. Do not provide your personal information, even if the caller has some of your information.
5. Do not click on links or attachments. Block unwanted calls and text messages.
Most of the person-to-person (P2P) apps expressly warn consumers to avoid using P2P payments for purchasing goods or services. Even a legitimate transaction can go wrong by entering an incorrect phone number or misspelling a recipient's name, resulting in the funds going to the wrong person. Once the funds are transferred, the money is likely lost.
Some scammers are asking for fake charitable donations using P2P apps. Before donating with a P2P app, always check the charity's website to verify that they accept donations through that app. (Learn more about charity scams.)
For in-person transactions, look into contactless payment options built into your mobile device or your existing credit cards.
Here are some other steps to help you avoid being scammed when using payment apps:
- Review the app's fraud protection policies and understand whether and how you can recover funds if a problem arises.
- Link your money transfer app to a credit card rather than a debit card or your bank account. A credit card provides added protection in case you do not receive the goods or services that you have purchased.
- Be wary of any business that only accepts P2P payment apps or pre-paid debit card payments. Consider this a red flag.
- Always verify the recipient's information before making any payment.
- Never send P2P payments to - or accept payments from - someone you don't know.
- Always create strong, unique passwords and disable automatic logins.
- Never provide sensitive personal information over the phone. Legitimate customer support operations will not ask for your bank account information.
- If you get an unexpected inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book, or on the company's or government agency's website to verify the authenticity of the request.
If you think you're a victim of a scam involving peer-to-peer payment apps, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. For concerns about P2P services, contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
To file complaints about phone and text scams with the FCC, visit fcc.gov/complaints.
Genetic Testing Fraud
Genetic testing scams are a rapidly emerging fraud trend throughout the country. Scammers are offering Medicare beneficiaries cheek swabs for genetic testing to obtain their Medicare information for fraudulent billing purposes or possibly medical identity theft.
What is genetic testing fraud?
Genetic testing fraud occurs when Medicare is billed for a test or screening that was not medically necessary and/or was not ordered by a beneficiary’s treating physician.
What are examples of genetic testing fraud?
- Cancer, cardio or cardiac screening / test
- Hereditary cancer or cardiovascular screening / test / profile
- Comprehensive cardiovascular panel or cardiomyopathy NSG
- Cardiovascular disease genetic kit
- Pharmacogenetics (medication metabolization)
- DNA screening / test
- Dementia screening / test
- Parkinson’s screening / test
- A company offering you “free” or “at no cost to you” testing without a treating physician’s order and then billing Medicare.
- A company using “telemedicine” to offer testing to you over the phone and arranging for an unrelated physician or “teledoc” to order the test.
- Billing Medicare (usually thousands of dollars) for a broad range of genetic tests that you did not request or possibly even receive.
- Billing Medicare for pharmacogenomic tests (to determine how you metabolize drugs) not covered by Medicare or that apply to you.
- A company calls you stating your doctor or cardiologist requested that you have the testing done and they will send you a testing kit.
- A company requesting your Medicare number (or possibly driver’s license) at health fairs, senior centers, assisted living facilities, malls, farmers market, church, parking lot, outside of a retail store, or sponsored wellness events.
What is medical identity theft?
Medical identity theft is when someone steals or uses your Medicare number to submit fraudulent claims to Medicare without your authorization. Medical identity theft may disrupt your medical care and/or result in financial harm.
What can you do to stop genetic testing fraud?
- Be sure your doctor has assessed your condition. Although Medicare covers many genetic tests for diagnostic use, it only covers one preventative genetic test to screen for cancer.
- Do not give out your personal information or accept screening services from someone at a community event, a local fair, a farmer’s market, a parking lot, or any other event.
- Always read your Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) or Explanation of Benefits (EOB). The words “gene analysis,” “molecular pathology,” or “laboratory” may indicate questionable genetic testing has occurred.
- If you received a cheek swab or a screening that was not medically necessary, report your concerns about billing errors or possible fraud and abuse to your local SMP.
Medicare Billing Codes
There are numerous Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes that have been associated with genetic testing complaints as noted by SMP. All the codes are in the 81200 81400 CPT series associated with Gene Analysis and Molecular Pathology. You can review your MSN for these codes.
What Happens if Medicare Denies the Genetic Test Claims?
You could be responsible for the entire cost of the test! The average is $9,000 to $11,000.
How Your Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) Can Help
SMPs and their trained volunteers help educate and empower Medicare beneficiaries in the fight against health care fraud. Your SMP can help you with your questions, concerns, or complaints about potential fraud and abuse issues. It also can provide information and educational presentations. To locate your state Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP): Visit www.smpresource.org
Scam-Proof Your Doorstep
Nowadays, you can encounter a scam artist just about anywhere online, over the phone and even at your door. Here are a few ruses that might come a’ knocking, and tips to avoid getting taken:
Home repair scams
Someone offers to do yardwork or make repairs in or around your home. You want to save money and really need the work done so you give it a shot. He or she takes a cash payment from you upfront… and never returns. Someone stops by and tells you they just finished a job in your neighborhood and have left over materials that they will use on your house at a tremendous discount. You pay upfront and they make off with your hard earned cash.
Money is tight and everyone is looking for ways to save a few bucks. Someone shows up at your door claiming to be from your utility company saying they can save you money on your next bill if you just show them your statement. They are not trying to save you money, they are taking your account number and other important information off your statement.
Protect your money and property by following a few tips:
Don’t let anyone come into your home unless you have a prescheduled appointment. You have the right to refuse to open your own door.
Don’t pay cash to anyone who comes to your home.
COVID opened the door for scammers to double down on their worst practices, while preying on consumers during an unprecedented global pandemic. That include scammers who have been taking advantage of online shoppers in search of hard-to-find items like face masks and other personal protective equipment.
The Federal Trade Commission have filed numerous complaints against these sites stating that they have failed to deliver advertised PPE on time, didn’t tell customers about shipping delays, offer order cancellations, or give refunds, and even in some instances, scammers have sent customers cloth masks that did not have the protective qualities promised with the N95 mask.
- When you shop online, sellers are supposed to ship your order within the time stated in their ads, or within 30 days if the ads don’t give a time. If a seller can’t ship within the promised time, it has to give you a revised shipping date, with the chance to either cancel your order for a full refund or accept the new shipping date.
- Check out the company or product.Search online for the name plus terms like “review,” “complaint,” or “scam.” See what other people say about it. Read the seller's description of the product carefully.
- Look at the terms of the sale. Make note of the total price, including taxes, shipping, and handling; the expected delivery date; and policies for refunds, including who pays for return shipping and if there is a restocking fee.