The strategies and tactics of scammers must constantly evolve because their ruses and tricks get old fast. The public learns about a scam, and suddenly it doesn’t work anymore. So the scammers are always switching things up and coming up with new ideas, or variations on old ones. Just two weeks into 2013, we’ve already seen several new alerts for senior scams.
Here are three scams officials have been warning people about. While these scams have generally been local, they could spread to (or be copied in) other states at anytime. So even if you don’t live in any of these states, familiarize yourself with these the trending scams so that you or your older loved one won’t be the next victim:
1. Medicare Card Scam
In Wisconsin seniors are receiving calls from a group calling itself “Preferred Benefits for Seniors”. Callers tell seniors that they need to replace their Medicare card, with their end goal of getting the senior to give up a bank account number. Speaking with WKBT-News, Marte Peterson of the La Crosse Sherrif’s Department, warned seniors, “Never give any personal information over the phone,” and added: “[Regarding] This particular scam that we’re talking about: Medicare would never call and tell you need a new card and ask for your personal information.” We have received reports that similar scams are occurring across the U.S.
2. Income Tax Scam
Texas officials have warned seniors about a new scam involving income tax returns. According to a Houston Chronicle article, the fraudsters call themselves Syam Tax Services. They recruit canvassers to tell victims (usually people receiving social security or disability) that they are eligible for a tax credit as part of a “new stimulus program” (the credit is made up). The scammers then offer to assist the senior to obtain the benefit, but getting the victims to fill out a form with all their financial information, including bank account number. The scammers file returns on behalf of their victims, but not only fill out the returns fraudulently but also direct half of income tax refunds to be put in their own account. Victims have predominately been low income seniors in Beaumont, Lufkin and Port Arthur but there have been incidents in other parts of East Texas as well.
3. Medicaid Card Scam
In South Carolina, fraudsters are trying much the same sort of devious scheming as the seniors as in Wisconsin The primary difference is that seniors are told that they need to replace their Medicaid card rather than their Medicare card. The difference in this case as compared to Wisconsin, is that the caller said he or she represented Medicaid itself rather than a third part business like “Preferred Benefits for Seniors.”
We invite you to read an article we posted in December about holiday related seniors scams. This post includes brief guidelines to help seniors keep from becoming victims. There’s also an excellent article about senior fraud prevention on our sister website, A Place for Mom.
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