Financial Elder Abuse Increases During Medicare Open Enrollment

Medicare Open Enrollment Period Can Lead to Financial Elder Abuse

Medicare Open EnrollmentThe Medicare Open Enrollment periods lasts from October 15th to December 7th, and AARP reports that numerous Medicare scams, perpetrating financial elder abuse, increase during that period as well.

The most common Medicare scam according to the AARP bulletin, involves a scammer posing as an employee of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), or another government agency. The scammer claims that new Medicare or Medicaid cards are being issued, which means that the senior citizen must update their personal information, including Medicare/Medicaid number, which is also likely the victim’s social security number. This can allow the scammer to steal the victim’s identity and either hack into their bank account, or change information to allow the scammer to receive the victim’s social security disability or retirement money.

“Medicare will never call you and ask you for your personal information, such as your Medicare number, over the phone. Never,” says CMS spokesman Aaron Albright. Communication with CMS and the Social Security Administration occurs through the mail.

“It’s illegal for someone to call and ask for your Medicare number, Social Security number, or bank or credit card information,” CMS says on its Medicare blog. “A Medicare representative or a private insurance plan working with Medicare will never call and ask for this information, and we will never call you or come to your home uninvited to sell Medicare products.”

Other financial elder abuse scams can involve selling fake medical equipment like wheelchairs or Diabetes testing. The scammer will often claim that the equipment itself is free, but the victim should pay shipping and handling. If the victim gives their credit or debit card information, or check routing numbers, then the scammer can get into their bank account.

It is also important to be very aware of caretakers, nursing home staff, and relatives who may be involved in a senior’s care. The most common form of financial elder abuse, unfortunately, comes from unscrupulous relatives. However, as more seniors are living in long-term care facilities like nursing homes, administrators who have access to trusts or bank account information are more often stealing money, and being prosecuted for financial elder abuse at the federal level. Nursing home staff can also, sometimes, steal credit or debit cards, along with other valuables, from residents who cannot defend themselves.

A new study from the Journal of General Internal Medicine shows that financial elder abuse is the fastest growing crime in the United States. According to Adult Protective Services, 60% of their cases involve theft of money or property from an elderly person.

The survey interviewed senior citizens in New York State over the phone, and 2.7% reported that they had suffered financial elder abuse sometime in the last year, while an alarming 4.7% reported some type of financial elder abuse occurring regularly over several years. About 78% of respondents reported theft of property or misappropriation of funds sometime in the past year; 42% said that financial elder abuse occurred between 2 and 10 times in the past year; and 9% reported such serious and regular financial elder abuse occurring more than 10 times in the past year.

The Strom Law Firm Defends Senior Citizens against Financial Elder Abuse

If you or a loved one has been the victim of financial elder abuse or exploitation by your care facility, nursing home, caregiver, or a relative, contact us today. Come in for a free consultation with one of our nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers to discuss your situation and hear how we can help. 803.252.4800

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