Scams Aimed at the Elderly


Yesterday I was called 4 times from this number (849)-963-4853.  There is no human on the line.  Instead a recording tells me it is an “URGENT phone call from Medicare” for elders with diabetes or back pain.  I hung up on them 4 times.  They called back every hour for a total of 4 times.

I went online to search for the source of these calls.  It is apparently a private company seeking to sell diabetes supplies and perhaps medications for back pain also and to bill Medicare for the supplies.  I presume the prices are inflated if the medications are even sent.  It is obviously NOT a telephone call from Medicare.

Medicare has a huge problem with fraudulent charges and this is one reason why.  Elderly people are often the targets of these calls because they tend to trust the caller.  They may be scammed into giving away their Medicare number over the telephone.  Medicare will then be charged for these and other supplies which may or may not ever be sent.  Many times the Medicare recipient is overcharged for supplies they could get much more cheaply locally as well.

There are many websites that will identify who the anonymous phone callers are from the telephone number, even if the caller ID says “Name Unavailable”.  They will also give you a link to the FCC website http://www.fcc.gov/complaints  where you can file a complaint about these fraudulent phone calls.  According to the FCC web page, telemarketers are required to transmit Caller ID information and may not block their numbers.  Also, if you are on the “Do Not Call” (http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/do-not-call-list)  list, they should not be calling at all.

I don’t know if dad has gotten any of these calls or not.  He may not answer the phone even if he is in the room when it rings.  He surely would not “press 2 if you have diabetes or back pain” because he won’t do the voice mail command things.  He would just hang up.  And, that is the first thing anyone should do with these phone calls – hang up.  If they continually call, then yes, file a complaint.

But filing a complaint won’t immediately stop the calls.  The best way to stop the calls is to find a way to block that caller.  Each telephone system has a different way to block phone calls.  I did an online search for my telephone company and found I had to establish an online personal account with my telephone provider.  There I could list up to 30 telephone numbers to block.

It took me almost an hour to get my account set up because of some problems I was having.  I worked with an online chat “analyst” who helped me through the steps to reset my account which had been set up before.  I then added this number to be blocked.

I am writing this post today for several reasons.  First, to remind you that you or your parents and other relatives may be receiving this type of phone call.  Medicare will not telephone specific individuals.  You may get mail from Medicare, such as the “Explanation of Benefits” after they pay a medical bill.  And you may get an informational mailing.  But I don’t know of any legitimate reason for Medicare to telephone an individual.

Second, with automatic dialing machines, all kinds of companies now telephone random numbers to collect debts or to fraudulently obtain credit card numbers or Medicare or Social Security numbers.  Many of these companies are persistent because it is almost cost-free for them to repeatedly telephone the same number using automatic dialers and voice messages.

We can stop some of these phone calls by both reporting them to the FCC and blocking the numbers from calling.  It is especially important to protect frail elderly people from these scams.  I know my mother wouldn’t have fallen for the ploys they offer.  However, she would have repeatedly been jumping up from her chair to answer the many telephone calls.  She wouldn’t have had any idea how to block those calls.

Those of us with computers have more options, though they may not work perfectly either.  I found with my cell phone that some companies had 4 or 5 different phone numbers that they used when making harassing phone calls.  One would have to block all of the numbers a company used in order to completely stop the harassment.

Remember (and remind your elderly family members) to never give out your Medicare number or credit card number if you receive a telephone call from someone saying they are calling for an official agency like Medicare.  Only give your number when you make the telephone contact yourself and you know who you are talking to!

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About letstalkaboutfamily

I am a retired and was the primary caregiver for both my parents before they passed. I have children and grandchildren. This blog is an attempt to connect with other caregivers and share ideas and experiences. I hope you will let me know what worked for you if you had an experience similar to mine. The main issues I am going to talk about are elder care, death and dying, assisted living, family relationships and hoarders and hoarding. Other topics will come up as I address the issues and my relationship with other family members.
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6 Responses to Scams Aimed at the Elderly

  1. terry1954 says:

    I just saw a large article on the news tonight, where fake companies scam the elderly. it makes me sick that scum take advantage of everyone, but mainly the elderly, they are so innocent or hard of hearing

  2. This is an awesome post and I am so glad you shared all of this helpful information! While we can’t wrestle all of the scammers down to the ground and rid the world of them we can empower ourselves and our loved ones not to fall for their ploys. I was thinking while reading your post that an elder person could also physically fall while getting up and down to answer to phone or have a heart episode, stroke, etc. from the irritation of dealing with these types of calls. It’s important we all get on the do not call list and report abuses by the scammers to the FCC.

    • Thank you. I know mom used to have difficulty getting to the telephone before it stopped ringing and yet she always felt she had to answer it. Now that she is gone, I still think about how these calls effect others. Dad is more laid back about his phone and often doesn’t get up to answer it. For myself, I get really annoyed when I get a call that is not really “for me”. I don’t buy things by phone if someone calls me nor do I give a donation that way. I am on the do not call list, but lately it isn’t as effective as it used to be. I agree it is important to report the scammers as that might be the only thing that stops them.

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