Protecting Yourself from Fraud
Anyone can become a victim of identity theft and fraud, but older adults are a favorite target of many con artists.
You can protect yourself and those you love by being aware of how these cons work. Read on to learn about some common frauds and how to avoid them.
Recognize a potential fraud
Guard your personal information
Possibly your best protection against falling victim to fraud is to never share your personal information with anyone you don’t know.
That includes your:
- Social Security Number
- Driver’s license number
- Bank account and credit card number
- Health insurance information, such as your Medicare and SCAN ID numbers
- Birthdate, address or phone number
If someone shows up at your door claiming to be from somewhere you trust, ask to see identification and ask them to come back later, after you’ve had the chance to verify.
Don’t give out information on the phone or on the internet until you’re sure they’re who they say they are.
Keep an eye on your accounts. Closely check your credit card statements and your Explanation of Benefits statements you receive from your health plan. Report any charges you don’t know about to the helpline number shown on the statement immediately.
Protect against credit card fraud
Carry only the cards you need each time you go out and leave all others in a safe place at home. Don’t leave your card with anyone or let anyone borrow it.
Shred statements, unused credit offers and other papers that contain your personal information before throwing them away.
Bring in your mail right away. Never leave bill payment envelopes out for the mail carrier or write your account number on the outside of an envelope.
Review bills and account statements regularly to make sure transactions are legitimate.
It’s a good idea to review your credit history every year to make sure it’s accurate. You can request a free copy of your credit report each year online at annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of a fraud, you can report it to the following organizations:
- Identity theft or phone/email schemes: contact the non-emergency line of your local police and the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-438-4338 or identitytheft.gov.
- Internet schemes: file a report with Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.
- Healthcare fraud: As a SCAN member call Member Services at (800) 559-3500 TTY: 711, or email us. You can also report suspicious activities related to your Medicare benefits by calling
- Elder abuse, including financial exploitation: contact Adult Protective Services by using the Eldercare Locator at eldercare.acl.gov or by calling
Q: How can I be sure someone is who they say they are?
A: It’s not always easy to tell. A scammer might know your name or have found some other information about you. They might have the logo of a company you do business with on their materials.
If you don’t know the person or didn’t make contact first, take the time to check them out. Ask to examine their identification. Tell them you need to do some research on your own before making any decisions.
Then, look up the company’s information and contact them directly. If someone says they’ve been sent by your doctor or your health plan, call your doctor’s office or your health plan, to confirm they’re who they say they are.
Be wary of anyone pressuring you to decide quickly.
Q: The caller ID shows a call from a federal agency. Should I answer it?
A: No. The government will never use a hotline to make an outgoing call. So, if you do answer the call, and it’s someone claiming to be from a government agency such as the IRS, Medicare, Health and Human Services Department or another government agency, hang up and report it by calling the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-438-4338.
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