Monday, April 22, 2019
Ok, so scams.... Ugh. Here's a couple of new ones, now we are past tax season and don't have to worry about the fake-IRS calling us for a couple of days. First, using DNA to commit scams and frauds. Scammers May Be Using DNA Testing to Defraud Medicare and Steal Identities reports Bloomerberg. "Authorities in several states are warning about an alleged scam in which people visit senior-living communities and low-income neighborhoods, offering to perform DNA tests and collecting information from people in government health programs. ... The alleged DNA-testing scams appear to be a new twist on an old tactic, in which people are tricked into giving away personal information or participating in medical services they don’t need. Perpetrators of such schemes can bill the government for unneeded medical tests and procedures, or use the information they collect — such as Medicare and Medicaid identification data — to commit identity theft and fraud." I guess you can't get much more personal info than someone's DNA. Yikes!
Next, the New York Times reported that falling prey to scams may be a red flag sign of dementia. Senior's Weakness for Scams May Be Warning Sign of Dementia.
"New research suggests seniors who aren't on guard against scams also might be at risk for eventually developing Alzheimer's disease. ... Elder fraud is a huge problem, and Monday's study doesn't mean that people who fall prey to a con artist have some sort of dementia brewing. ... But scientists know that long before the memory problems of Alzheimer's become obvious, people experience more subtle changes in their thinking and judgment. Neuropsychologist Patricia Boyle of Rush University's Alzheimer's disease center wondered if one of the warning signs might be the type of judgment missteps that can leave someone susceptible to scams."
Although "[t]he study can't prove a link between low scam awareness and impending decline in thinking and memory," results point us to a need for more research.
There are already a number of prevention efforts in existence, but yet, these crimes keep occurring. One more recent innovation is referenced in the article. "[T]he rise in elder fraud has reached such a level that investment firms now are supposed to ask customers for the contact information of a "trusted person" they can alert if they suspect a case of financial exploitation. Just last week, federal agents broke up a Medicare scam that sold unneeded orthopedic braces to hundreds of thousands of seniors. And every tax season the government warns people not to fall for phone calls from IRS impostors — that agency won't call for payment."
And let's not get started on robocalls... Oh, ok since I mentioned them, the current issue of Consumer Reports newsletter focuses an article on apps designed to block robocalls. How to Protect Yourself From Robocalls shares the results of a survey of robocall blocker apps used by readers. Check them out and use one that works best for you. Have you reached the point where you no longer answer the phone if you don't recognize the number? I have.