Be a savvy Upstate senior by avoiding health, medical scams
By Vee Daniel
Better Business Bureaus have been warning senior adults for years about scams that target their age group.
The BBB of Upstate South Carolina keeps seniors in our area informed with a program called Savvy Seniors, which teaches how to spot and avoid scams and offers resources seniors can turn to if they become a victim.
Seniors are prime targets for con artists because they’re often at home and available for phone calls. They also tend to be more trusting, and typically don’t want to end an unwanted call for fear of appearing impolite.
Health and medical scams are common among a growing generation of adults in their 80s and 90s. Those who suffer from memory loss or become confused easily are especially vulnerable to these scams that can rob them of considerable amounts of money.
Here are three health and medical scams that are common around the country and have been reported to our Upstate SC BBB:
Health Care Fraud Scams
Scammers will call or email targets saying that they represent Medicare or a health insurance company.
They typically say that they are sending a new medical card, or they are calling to announce a new plan.
The caller will falsely claim that they need an initial payment for the new card or plan and will ask for credit card or banking information. These scammers are simply attempting to get personal or financial information to obtain more money.
Free Medical Alert Systems
Among the major scams reported to BBBs are “Robocalls”, or automated calls that offer “free” medical alert systems.
With this scam, seniors will receive a phone call informing them that they have been enrolled at no charge to receive a personal medical alert system.
Scammers claim that either a loved one or the target’s personal physician purchased the service for them.
Avoid this scam by not pressing any buttons and simply hanging up.
Fraudulent Anti-Aging Products
Be wary of advertisements for “secret formulas,” “breakthroughs,” “amazing supplements” or any products that claim to cure a variety of illnesses.
Be careful of products that are marketed as having “no side effects” or claiming to be backed by physicians.
Also, be aware that testimonials and celebrity endorsements can often be misleading. Always consult your doctor before purchasing any new medications or supplements.
Seniors should be aware that scammers often go back to those who have been scammed previously.
If you’ve been a victim once, chances are you will be targeted again by the same scammer or a new one.
We hope that you never do, but should you become the target of a scam, call the BBB Elder Fraud program hotline at (864) 240-2080 or report the scam using BBB Scamtracker at BBB.org/ScamTracker.
About the Author
Vee Daniel is President & CEO of the Better Business Bureau Upstate SC. Prior to joining the BBB, Daniel served as Director of Events & Membership Services for the Home Builders Association of South Carolina and Executive Officer of the Home Builders Association of Greater Spartanburg.