Q: When I stopped to visit my 85-year-old mom this morning, she had just received a call from someone telling her she needed to buy insurance as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). She was upset and confused. Fortunately, she didn't give out any personal information. What's up?
A: Your mother was likely the intended victim of a healthcare scam.
The shifts in the healthcare landscape have prompted some criminals to carry out healthcare scams targeting seniors, according to the Senate Special Committee on Aging.
If your mother is on Medicare, as are most seniors that age, she does not need to buy health insurance through the exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act.
Below are steps seniors can take to avoid falling victim to these fraudsters and identity thieves, from the Senate Special Committee on Aging:
Protect personal information and be suspicious of solicitations.
Never share personal information, such as Medicare, Social Security or bank account information with anyone who contacts you uninvited at your door, over the phone or by e-mail seeking to verify personal information or sell you a health plan.
Know that Medicare will never call you at home.
If you receive a call from someone who says they're from Medicare or Social Security, hang up.
Use official websites only.
Seniors using Medicare open-enrollment periods to shop for prescription drug or Medicare Advantage plans should sign up only through the official Medicare Plan Finder website at www.medicare.gov or by phone at 800-MEDICARE.
Report suspected fraud.
Report any suspected fraud to the local police or your state's attorney general. To report identity theft-related crimes, contact the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/idtheft or by calling 877-438-4338. If you or a loved one have been the victim of fraud, call 1-855-303-9470.
If it has anything to do with Medicare, call 1-800-MEDICARE or check out online resources at www.medicare.gov.
To learn more about Medicare fraud and taking steps to prevent it, visit www.stopmedicarefraud.gov or contact the Senior Medicare Patrol program in your area by visiting www.smpresource.org.
For more information about how a Home Instead CAREGiverSM could provide companionship and assistance for your mother as well as serving as a second set of eyes and ears for you, call your local Home Instead Senior Care office today.
To learn more from the Senate Special Committee on Aging, visit www.aging.senate.gov/press-releases/tips-to-protect-yourself-against-health-care-scams.
For more suggestions about how to protect seniors, visit, www.ProtectSe niorsfromFraud.com.
For more information about Home Instead Senior Care, contact DeLauter at 866-522-6533 or visit www.homeinstead.com.
DeLauter is the owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office in Lewisburg, which serves Union, Snyder, Northumberland, Lycoming, Clinton, Montour and Columbia counties.