Senior Medicare Patrol

Our Purpose

In 2010, we partnered with the Utah Department of Aging Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) program in Salt Lake City. Our purpose is to focus on prevention, with a mission of empowering Medicare beneficiaries, their families, and caregivers to prevent, detect, and report health care fraud and identity theft, errors, and abuse through outreach and education.

The SMP is a national program for people with Medicare of all ages. SMP is administered by the Administration for Community Living. To learn more, volunteer or to locate your local Senior Medicare Patrol please call 1-877-808-2468 or visit https://www.smpresource.org


Do you think you are a victim of Medicare fraud or abuse?
If you need help contacting your local SMP, fill out the form here: https://smpresource.news/Contact

September 14, 2022

The SMP program is celebrating is 25-year anniversary! Curious about the history of the program? Visit this link and use the interactive timeline to learn more. #SMPis25 #SeniorMedicarePatrol

https://www.smpresource.org/Content/What-SMPs-Do.aspx

FYI ...

July 6, 2022

We’re happy to announce that HHS and DOJ released the FY 2021 HCFAC Report. The report shows the Federal Government won or negotiated more than $5.0 billion in health care fraud judgments and settlements, in addition to other health care administrative impositions in FY 2021. Because of these efforts, as well as those of preceding years, almost $1.9 billion was returned to the Federal Government or paid to private persons in FY 2021. Of this $1.9 billion, the Medicare Trust Funds received transfers of approximately $1.2 billion during this period, in addition to the almost $98.7 million in Federal Medicaid money that was similarly transferred separately to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services due to these efforts.

Other notable accomplishments of the HCFAC program during FY 2021 include:

  • The three-year return on investment (ROI) for the HCFAC program over 2019–2021 was $4 returned for every $1.00 expended.

  • A total of 312 defendants were convicted of health care fraud-related crimes.

  • DOJ opened 831 new civil health care fraud investigations and had 1,432 civil health care fraud matters pending at the end of the fiscal year.

A full version of the report can be found on OIG’s website (https://oig.hhs.gov/reports-and-publications/hcfac/index.asp).

SMP Consumer Fraud Alert

September is World Alzheimer's Awareness Month. Seniors who have Alzheimer's are at an even greater risk for fraud and abuse. This article covers six signs of elder abuse in seniors with dementia: https://dailycaring.com/signs-of-elder-abuse-in-seniors.../.

Contact your local #SeniorMedicarePatrol to learn how you can help people protect against Medicare fraud, errors, and abuse at www.smpresource.org.

#WorldAlzheimersAwarenessMonth

September 21, 2022

FYI ... SMP National Resource Center

August 9, 2022

Be on the lookout for texts like this offering genetic testing kits from Medicare. These are scams and attempts to steal your medical identity.

If you receive texts like this, please report it to your local #SMP and the Federal Trade Commission.

Find your local #SeniorMedicarePatrol by calling 877-808-2468 or using the state locator at smpresource.org.


Top 10 Financial Scams Targeting Seniors

Reference article at www.smpresource.org

May 8, 2022

Key Takeaways

  • Financial scams targeting the elderly can be devastating, leaving older adults in a vulnerable position and without time to recoup their losses.

  • Older adults lose an estimated $3 billion each year to financial scams.

  • Learn how to identify and stop the top 10 financial scams targeting seniors.


Financial scams targeting seniors are prevalent and costly. The FBI estimates that seniors lose more than $3 billion each year to fraudsters. Scammers go after seniors because they believe older adults have a significant amount of money sitting in their accounts.

1. Government impostor scams

Government impostors call unsuspecting victims and pretend to be from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Social Security Administration, or Medicare. They may say you have unpaid taxes and threaten arrest or deportation if you don’t pay up immediately. Or they may say your Social Security or Medicare benefits are in danger of being cut off if you don’t provide personal identifying information (that can then be used to commit fraud). Government impersonators often “spoof” the actual phone numbers of the government agency, or call from the same zip code (202 for Washington, DC).

2. The grandparent scam

The grandparent scam is so simple and so devious because it uses one of older adults’ most reliable assets, their hearts. Scammers will place a call to an older person and say something along the lines of: “Hi Grandma, do you know who this is?” When the unsuspecting grandparent guesses the name of the grandchild the scammer most sounds like, the scammer has established a fake identity without having done any background research. Once “in,” the fake grandchild will ask for money to solve some unexpected financial problem (overdue rent, car repairs, jail bond) and will beg the grandparent not to tell anyone. Because scammers ask to be paid via gift cards or money transfer, which don’t always require identification to collect, the senior may have no way of seeing that money ever again.

3. Medicare/health insurance scams

Every U.S. citizen or permanent resident over age 65 qualifies for Medicare, so there is rarely any need for a scam artist to research what private health insurance company older people have in order to scam them out of some money. In these types of scams, perpetrators may pose as a Medicare representative to get older people to give them their personal information, or they will provide bogus services for elderly people at makeshift mobile clinics, then bill Medicare and pocket the money. Medicare scams often follow the latest trends in medical research, such as genetic testing fraud and COVID-19 vaccines.

4. Computer tech support scams

Computer technical support scams prey on people’s lack of knowledge about computers and cybersecurity. A pop-up message or blank screen usually appears on a computer or phone, telling you that your device is compromised and needs fixing. When you call the support number for help, the scammer may either request remote access to your computer and/or that you pay a fee to have it repaired. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) found that seniors who fell for this scam lost an average of $500 each to computer tech support scams in 2018.

5. Sweepstakes & lottery scams

This simple scam is one that many are familiar with, and it capitalizes on the notion that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Here, scammers inform their mark that they have won a lottery or sweepstakes of some kind and need to make some sort of payment to unlock the supposed prize. Often, seniors will be sent a check that they can deposit in their bank account, knowing that while it shows up in their account immediately, it will take a few days before the (fake) check is rejected. During that time, the criminals will quickly collect money for supposed fees or taxes on the prize, which they pocket while the victim has the “prize money” removed from his or her account as soon as the check bounces. Unlike some of the other scams noted here, lottery and sweepstakes scammers can sometimes collect thousands of dollars from their unsuspecting victims.

6. Robocalls/phone scams

Robocalls take advantage of sophisticated phone technology to dial large numbers of households from anywhere in the world. Robocallers use a variety of tactics to cheat their victims. Some may claim that a warranty is expiring on their car/electronic product and payment is needed to renew it. One popular robocall is the “Can you hear me?” call, where when the senior says yes, the scammer hangs up after recording their voice, thus obtaining a voice signature to authorize unwanted charges on items like stolen credit cards.

7. Romance scams

As more people use the Internet for dating, con artists see an opportunity to find their next victim. Romance scammers create elaborate fake profiles, often on social media, and exploit seniors’ loneliness for money. In some cases, romance scammers may (or pretend to) be overseas, and request money to pay for visas, medical emergencies, and travel expenses to come visit the U.S. Because they drag on for a long time, romance scammers can get a lot of money from a senior—the FTC found that in 2019 alone, seniors lost nearly $84 million to romance scams.

8. Internet and email fraud

While using the Internet is a great skill at any age, the slower speed of adoption among some older people makes them easier targets for automated Internet scams that are ubiquitous on the web and email programs. Pop-up browser windows simulating virus-scanning software will fool victims into either downloading a fake anti-virus program (at a substantial cost) or an actual virus that will open up whatever information is on the user’s computer to scammers. Their unfamiliarity with the less visible aspects of browsing the web (firewalls and built-in virus protection, for example) make seniors especially susceptible to such traps.

Phishing emails and text messages may look like they’re from a company you know or trust. They may look like they’re from a bank, a credit card company, or an online store. Phishing emails request your personal information, such as a log-in or Social Security number to verify your account, or ask that you update your credit card payment. Then they use that information to steal your personal and financial information.

9. Elder financial abuse

Unlike many of the other scams, elder financial abuse is carried out by someone a senior knows. This can be a family member, friend, power of attorney, or caregiver. These trusted individuals try and gain control of a senior’s money, assets, and credit. They also may withhold needed care in order to retain control over the person and their assets. Seniors who have a disability or cognitive impairment (such as dementia) may be at particular risk.

10. Charity scams

Charity scams rely on seniors’ goodwill to pocket money they claim they’re raising for a good cause. Some scammers may use a name similar to a legitimate charity. They often capitalize on current events, such as natural disasters, and may set up a fundraising page on a crowdsourcing site, which don’t always have to means to investigate fraud. Charity scammers may insist you donate immediately, sometimes with a payment method that should be a red flag—e.g., gift cards or money transfer.

If you suspect you’ve been the victim of a scam…

Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to talk about it with someone you trust. You are not alone, and there are people who can help. Doing nothing could only make it worse. Keep handy the phone numbers and resources you can turn to, including the local police, your bank (if money has been taken from your accounts), and Adult Protective Services. To obtain the contact information for Adult Protective Services in your area, call the Eldercare Locator, a government sponsored national resource line, at: 1-800-677-1116, or visit their website at: https://eldercare.acl.gov.

You can also report scams online to the Federal Trade Commission, https://www.ncoa.org/article/top-10-financial-scams-targeting-seniors or https://www.smpresource.org/

FYI ... www.SMPResource.org

Do you know someone who has Medicare but doesn't have access to the internet? Here is a printable handout of the most common fraud schemes to be aware of that you can offer a neighbor or loved one who may not have access to the internet.

Each topic has details on the scheme, things to watch out for, and how to report it. Please share this link and resource with everyone you know on Medicare: https://smpresource.news/FraudSchemesPrintableHandout


Dollars Lost to Fraud

Medicare fraud is big business for criminals. Medicare loses billions of dollars each year due to fraud, errors, and abuse. Estimates place these losses at approximately $60 billion annually, though the exact figure is impossible to measure.

Medicare fraud hurts us all. When thieves steal from Medicare, there is less money for the health care you really need. You pay for things you might never get. You can get hurt when you get tests, medicine, or care you don’t need. Doctors, pharmacies, and medical suppliers can make mistakes and bad choices. Sometimes they straight-up steal from Medicare. Medicare is trying to crack down.


How You Can Help

Be the first line of defense in protecting your Medicare benefits.

  • Treat your Medicare card like a credit card. Your Medicare number can be valuable to thieves who want to steal your medical identity or bill Medicare without even seeing you.

  • Don’t take advice or offers of medical services from people you don’t know who call, come to your house, or approach you in public.

  • Read your Medicare Summary Notice or Explanation of Benefits. Look for services or equipment you didn’t receive, double charges, or things your doctor didn’t order.

  • Ask questions and report problems. Call the doctor or company and ask them about mistakes. Call the insurance company if you still have questions. Get help from your local SMP.

  • Volunteer. No one cares more about keeping criminals out of Medicare than the people who need it. Become a part of your local SMP program. Help protect your friends and neighbors.

How Your Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) Can Help

Your local SMP is ready to provide you with the information you need to PROTECT yourself from Medicare fraud, errors, and abuse; DETECT potential fraud, errors, and abuse; and REPORT your concerns. 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) use the SMP State Locator or call 1-877-808-2468.

For a printable resource, see the Medicare Fraud by the Numbers Fact Sheet.

NEWS:

Recent proposals in Congress would drastically impact Medicare beneficiaries by linking U.S. health care costs to foreign countries and encouraging government price controls. We ask Sen. Mike Lee, Sen. Mitt Romney, Rep. Rob Bishop, Rep. Chris Stewart, Rep. John Curtis and Rep. Ben McAdams to actively oppose any policies that would be harmful to Utah’s nearly 390,000 Medicare beneficiaries. Utah's representatives should support patient-centered reforms that cap out-of-pocket drug spending in Medicare Part D and ensure pharmaceutical discounts negotiated by insurance companies are shared with patients at the pharmacy counter.


SMP Newsletter

JULY 2022