Fighting scams: Midvale woman sounds warning after phone pitch for 'medical card'
"When Part D was new, seniors were reporting scams left and right," Ormsby said. "Any time there is confusion or something new out there, scammers will take advantage. It's very sad and very frequent."
He said the Medicare Plan D scams even extended to people who went door-to-door asking for drivers' licenses and bank account numbers. It got to the point that Medicare had to announce that none of its representatives were soliciting door-to-door, Ormsby said.
Just hang up
Ormsby urged seniors to remove themselves from suspicious situations.
"It's OK to hang up the phone," he said. "They don't have to be friendly. It's OK to say, 'No thank you, goodbye.' Sometimes older adults are hesitant to just shut the door on a person because they are polite and kind and good people. They need to know it's OK."
But he also believes the reason seniors are targeted by scams goes beyond their kind and trusting natures.
"I think they're targeted because they have money," he said, adding that many scam artists are searching for that "nest egg."
It doesn't help that the scams are aimed at the things that would draw an emotional response from most — family, finances and health care. Ormsby said those facing a scam that draws on such sensitive topics should take a step back and talk to those they trust, but should remember if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
AARP has a number of methods of tackling the problem. The group has numerous articles online, it works with the Division of Securities to host fraud forums and prints bulletins in its AARP Money newsletter. Ormsby met with credit union executives on Thursday to talk about how the credit unions can help fight fraud.
"Everyone who works with older adults knows someone whose been defrauded," Ormsby said. "Everyone has someone in their lives that they know this happened to. This is one thing that is consistently coming up. People want to know, 'How can I stay healthy? How can I make sure my brain stays healthy? … And how do I avoid fraud?'"
Hood said she considers herself to be an informed person. She said she hopes her fellow seniors will be more aware and careful, even if it goes against their trusting nature.
"I think that's just part of the aging process, but I've always just been as suspicious as heck," she said.
Top Utah consumer complaints
1. Debt collection — 1,312
2. Prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries — 716
3. Shop-at-home, catalog sales — 620
4. Banks and lenders — 619
5. Imposter scams — 556
Source: 2011 Federal Trade Commission report
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