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Pass It On: What you need to know about health care scams

dfox • Nov 4, 2015 at 6:00 PM

Pass It On reinforces what older people already know about some of today’s most common scams, and it gives them a short and straightforward way to share that knowledge with their family members, friends and communities. It focuses on their ability to be part of the solution instead of implying they’re part of the problem when it comes to scams.

This week, let’s discuss Health Care Scams. You see an ad on TV, telling you about a new law that requires you to get a new health care card. Maybe you get a call offering you big discounts on health insurance. Or maybe someone says they’re from the government, and she needs your Medicare number to issue you a new card. Scammers follow the headlines. When it’s Medicare open season, or when health care is in the news, they go to work with a new script. Their goal? To get your Social Security number, financial information, or insurance number.

So take a minute to think before you talk: Do you really have to get a new health care card? Is that discounted insurance a good deal? Is that ‘government official’ really from the government? The answer to all three is almost always: No.

Here’s what you can do:

1. Stop. Check it out. Before you share your information, call Medicare (1-800-MEDICARE), do some research, and check with someone you trust. What’s the real story?

2. Pass this information on to a friend. You probably saw through the requests. But chances are you know someone who could use a friendly reminder.

If you spot a scam, please report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Report a scam online or call the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or TTY 1-866-653-4261. Your complaint can help protect other people. By filing a complaint, you can help the FTC’s investigators identify scammers and stop them before they can get someone’s hard-earned money. It really makes a difference.

The topics in the first generation of the Pass It On campaign include imposter scams, identity theft, charity fraud, health care scams, paying too much, and “you’ve won” scams.  Pass It On bookmarks and fact sheets are free, and available for bulk order or download at ftc.gov/PassItOn.

UT Extension provides a gateway to the University of Tennessee as the outreach unit of the Institute of Agriculture. With an office in every Tennessee county, UT Extension delivers educational programs and research-based information to citizens throughout the state and provides equal opportunities in all programming and employment. In cooperation with Tennessee State University, UT Extension works with farmers, families, youth and communities to improve lives by addressing problems and issues at the local, state and national levels.

For more information on this or other family and consumer sciences related topics, contact Shelly Barnes, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension agent for UT Extension in Wilson County.  Barnes may be reached at [email protected] or 615-444-9584.

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