Posts Tagged ‘fraud’

Scammer Lingo

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

Scammer Lingo

Here on NJFA’s blog we have featured a few posts about scams, we’ve also done articles in Renaissance and posted scam warnings on Social Media. It seems there is always a new scam or the resurgence of an old scam to be on the lookout for.

But that got us thinking… do we really know what all the terms associated with scams mean? The tactics that scammers use come with their own little lingo. In order to be more prepared and aware- we thought, why not share some of the terms most commonly associated with scams? That way you know what we are talking about when you read about a new scam or a warning of a scam to look out for.

Here is a sampling of terms and their definitions.

Pharming: When hackers use malicious programs to route you to their own websites (often convincing look-alikes of well-known sites), even if you’ve correctly typed in the address of the site you want to visit.

Phishing: The act of trying to trick you (often by email) into providing your personal data or credit card numbers, usually a scammer will pose as a trusted business or other entity.

Ransomware: A malicious program that restricts or disables your computer, hijacks and encrypts files, and then demands a fee to restore your computer’s functionality.

Scareware: A program that displays on-screen warnings of nonexistent infections on your computer to trick you into installing malware or buying fake antivirus protection.

Skimming: The capture of information from the magnetic strip on credit and debit cards by using a “skimmer” devices. These skimmers are secretly installed on card-reading systems at gas pumps, ATMs and store checkout counters.

Spoofing: Scammers can use technology to pose as a specific person, business or agency, this technology allows them to manipulate a telephone’s caller ID to display a false name or number, so that it appears they are calling from a legitimate business or from a local number.

Spyware: A type of malware installed on your computer or cellphone to track your actions and collect information without your knowledge.

As a reminder, if you have been the victim of a scam, contact your local Police Department and/or the Federal Trade Commission  https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1  or the NJ Division of Consumer Affairs 1-800-242-5846 or www.njconsumeraffairs.gov  

 

The New Medicare Cards

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

The New Medicare Cards

By Charles Clarkson, Project Director, Senior Medicare Patrol of New Jersey

In 2015, Congress passed the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act. This law requires the removal of the social security numbers from all Medicare cards by April 2019. This new initiative is referred to as the Social Security Number Removal Initiative (SSNRI.) A new randomly generated Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) will replace the social security number. When the initiative gets underway all Medicare beneficiaries will be assigned a new MBI and be sent a new Medicare card.

The primary goal of the initiative is to decrease Medicare beneficiaries’ vulnerability to identity theft by removing the social security number from their Medicare cards and replacing it with a new Medicare MBI which does not contain any other personal information.

The new MBI will have the following characteristics:

i. The same number of characters as the current Medicare number, but will be visibly distinguishable from the Medicare number

ii. Contain uppercase alphabetic and numeric characters throughout the new MBI

iii. For providers, the new MBI will occupy the same field as the Medicare number on transactions

iv. Be unique to each beneficiary (e.g. husband and wife will have their own MBI)

v. Be easy to read and limit the possibility of letters being interpreted as numbers (e.g. alphabetic characters are upper case only and will exclude S, L, O, I, B, Z)

vi. Not contain any embedded intelligence or special characters

vii. Not contain inappropriate combinations of numbers or strings that may be offensive

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency that oversees Medicare, has established a transition period during which the Medicare number or MBI will be accepted from providers, beneficiaries, plans, and others. CMS expects the transition period to run from April 2018 through December 31, 2019. After the transition period only the MBI will be used.

Starting around April 2018, CMS will start mailing new Medicare cards. There are approximately 60 million beneficiaries in Medicare. So, CMS will probably mail the cards in phases over a period of time. Remember, as a beneficiary you can still use your current Medicare number during the transition period if it takes awhile to receive your new Medicare card. If a beneficiary is new to Medicare after April 2018 and Medicare has started issuing the new cards, the beneficiary will receive the new MBI. Therefore, healthcare providers must be able accept the new MBIs by April 2018.

Fraud and the new Medicare cards.

The Senior Medicare Patrol of New Jersey (SMP) wants all Medicare beneficiaries to be aware of possible fraud and scams relating to the new Medicare cards. Remember, CMS and Medicare will never contact you by phone or email to ask for personal information relating to the issuance of the new Medicare cards. Any such contact is a scam. Don’t be taken in. Also, there will be no charge for the issuance of the new Medicare cards. Anyone seeking to have a beneficiary pay money for the new card is a scammer. Be especially careful of anyone seeking to have access to your checking account to pay any fee for the new card. Beneficiaries are especially vulnerable if they are isolated, frail or may have cognitive loss. Caregivers should be on the alert for these kinds of scams. The SMP is currently educating beneficiaries at its outreach events of the issuance of the new Medicare cards. CMS will also be conducting intensive education and outreach to beneficiaries to help them prepare for this change.

The issuance of the new Medicare card is a significant change. If a beneficiary or caregiver has any questions about the SSNRI, please don’t hesitate to call the SMP at 1-877-SMP-4359 (1-877-767-4359) or 732-777-1940. A beneficiary or caregiver can also email me at charlesc@jfsmiddlesex.org.

Phone Scams

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

Here are NJFA, we like to make sure we are keeping folks aware of scams and fraud issues. Our February episode of Aging Insights, is titled, Stop Identity Theft and features two guests that will help viewers to protect themselves. We also want to address a scam that’s been in the news.

Recently, news outlets across the United States reported on a new scam referred to as the “can you hear me?” telephone scam. According to those reports, the scam begins with an unsolicited phone call. After the caller makes contact they ask the recipient “Can you hear me?” to elicit a response of “yes,” and a potential onslaught of unauthorized charges ensues.

The story goes that if you get this call and respond “yes” to the question, “can you hear me?” that the scammer could be recording it and could use it against you. There is the possibility that you could receive a bill for something you did not purchase or agree to and when you go to dispute the bill you will be presented with your own voice saying “yes” on the recording.

The first thing we want to warn readers about is if you don’t know the caller or are suspicious of their intent, you should always hang up. Do not give personal information or engage the caller in conversation if you have doubts about the legitimacy of the call. You should also contact the appropriate authority to report any issues or to verify any information you are given on the call. For example, if the caller claims to be from your utility company, call the # on your monthly statement to verify your account status or any issues.

After some additional research, we’d also like you to know what some investigators have discovered about this scam. According to the fact-finding website, Snopes, “we haven’t yet been able to identify any scenario under which a scammer could authorize charges in another person’s name simply by possessing a voice recording of that person saying “yes,” without also already possessing a good deal of personal and account information for that person, and without being able to reproduce any other form of verbal response from that person.” That doesn’t mean it cannot happen, just that the reports thus far only support the threat and not any actual monetary charges.

The Snopes article adds, “In all the news reports we found, interviewees merely reported having been asked the common question (“Can you hear me?”) but did not state that they themselves had fallen prey to scammers.”

That being said, we still advice you to use caution when receiving unsolicited phone calls, hanging up is ok. And if you have any scams or crimes to report, contact your local police, the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov/complaint or 1-877-438-4338), and/or your local Better Business Bureau.

 

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Aging Insights Episode 32, Financial Exploitation and SCAMS

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

Aging Insights Episode 32, Financial Exploitation and SCAMS

NJFA is pleased to announce the release of the 32nd episode of Aging Insights TV program, Financial Exploitation and SCAMS, focusing on those that target seniors. This episode will be shown during May 2014. The show is broadcast on over 60 public access stations and may also be seen on NJFA’s website, http://www.njfoundationforaging.org/aging-insights.

The New Jersey Foundation for Aging (NJFA) is a public charity with the primary goal to empower elders to live in the community with independence and dignity. The strategies to age well are voluminous. Consequently, the Foundation uses several messaging platforms to highlight resources to age well. For example, Aging Insights is a ½ hour TV program that is produced monthly by the Foundation, or Renaissance magazine which can also be found online at www.njfoundationforaging.org/renaissance-magazine.

For this episode Grace Egan is joined by Frank Goia, Esq., Director of Hudson Co. Protective Services and Steve Scaturro Director of Ocean Co. Division of Consumer Affairs. These guests share the current trends that they are seeing, provide prevention tips and offer information about reporting these crimes.

This show and the work of the NJ Foundation for Aging are possible by donors. To make a donation to NJFA, please visit our website, www.njfoundationforaging.org or call the office, 609-421-0206 for more information. Sponsorships spots are also available for future shows.

Viewers may also visit NJFA’s website to take the new online survey on Aging Insights to provide comments on the show and to suggest future topics the program should address. To learn more about the work of the Foundation visit www.njfoundationforaging.org or call 609-421-0206.

 

How to get your Credit Report

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

We’ve all seen those funny commercials for credit reports and have probably read articles in magazines urging us to get our yearly free credit report. However, have you ever wondered why you need it? Or how to go about getting it? And how to avoid scams posing as free credit report services? Well, let’s try to answer some of those questions.

Knowing your credit score can help guard against identity theft. Identity thieves may use your information to open a new credit card account in your name. Then, when they don’t pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report. Inaccurate information like that could affect your ability to get credit, insurance, or even a job. Since your credit report has information that affects whether you can get a loan — and how much you will have to pay to borrow money, you should check it annually to make sure it is accurate

The Federal Trade Commission enforces The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) which requires each of the nationwide credit reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. A credit report includes information on where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued or have filed for bankruptcy. Nationwide credit reporting companies sell the information in your report to creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that use it to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, or renting a home. You can see why it is important to receive your credit report to monitor these things yourself before applying for a loan, credit card, mortgage or even a new job.

To order your free credit report, visit annualcreditreport.com, call 1-877-322-8228. Or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. Do not contact the three nationwide credit reporting companies individually. They are providing free annual credit reports only through annualcreditreport.com, 1-877-322-8228 or mailing to Annual Credit Report Request Service.

Here’s an important piece to remember– The law allows you to order one free copy of your report from each of the nationwide credit reporting companies every 12 months.

You may order your reports from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies at the same time, or you can order your report from each of the companies one at a time.

Okay, so here is the part to make a note of to protect yourself from scams. Use only annualcreditreport.com to order your free credit report. That is the only site under the law- FCRA that is mandated to provide your credit report for free. Other websites that claim to offer “free credit reports,” “free credit scores,” or “free credit monitoring” are not part of the legally mandated free annual credit report program. In some cases, the “free” product comes with strings attached. For example, some sites sign you up for a supposedly “free” service that converts to one you have to pay for after a trial period. If you don’t cancel during the trial period, you may be unwittingly agreeing to let the company start charging fees to your credit card.

Some “imposter” sites use terms like “free report” in their names; others have URLs that purposely misspell annualcreditreport.com in the hope that you will mistype the name of the official site. Some of these “imposter” sites direct you to other sites that try to sell you something or collect your personal information. So make sure you type the url correctly and don’t enter your credit card information, exit the site if they ask for this information and then attempt to connect with annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.

The only information that you’ll be asked for to process your credit report is your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth. If you have moved in the last two years, you may have to provide your previous address. To maintain the security of your file, each nationwide credit reporting company may ask you for some information that only you would know, like the amount of your monthly mortgage payment. Each company may ask you for different information because the information each has in your file may come from different sources.

While your credit report helps determine your credit score, these reports will not give you your credit score. For more information about your credit score visit- http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0152-how-credit-scores-affect-price-credit-and-insurance#credit

For more details and to learn what steps to take if you do find inaccurate information on your credit report, please visit the Federal Trade Commission and read the article on Free Credit Reports http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0155-free-credit-reports or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357)

 

More Money Tips

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

More Money Tips

Fraud and Abuse

If you have not done so already, adding yourself to the Do Not Call Registry can limit the number of mail and phone calls you receive from marketers. Contact the Do Not Call Registry at 1-888-382-1222 or visit www.donotcall.gov

For more information on stopping unwanted mail and phone calls visit the Federal Trade Commission online at www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0260-stopping-unsolicited-mail-phone-calls-and-email

You’ve seen many ads and articles stating that a Reverse Mortgage can help you, and for some people it is a wise choice. NJFA’s Renaissance magazine has published articles outlining what you should know when considering a Reverse mortgage. You must be 62 or over to qualify and a counseling session is required.  A reverse mortgage is borrowing against the equity of your home. You must stay current with your property taxes while you live in the home and the money will have to be paid back when you or your heirs sell the home. More information can be found at www.fdic.gov/

Always be on the lookout for fraud. Here are some warning signs to be aware of:

  • An unsolicited phone call, email or other request that you pay a large amount of money before receiving goods and services.
  • An unexpected email or call requesting your bank account number, perhaps one asking you for the information printed at the bottom of your checks.
  • An offer that seems too good to be true, like an investment, “guaranteeing” a return that’s way above the competition.
  • Pressure to send funds quickly by wire transfer.

Protecting your important documents is important. Keeping them in a safe place should also include protecting them from water damage by keeping them in an airtight and waterproof container.

The NJ Division of Consumer Affairs provides valuable information and resources to protect you. Their website features information about cyber fraud, how to determine if an investment opportunity is real and also a way to check if a charity is legitimate and other consumer warnings. Visit them online at www.njconsumeraffairs.gov or call them at 1-800-242-5846.

 

Go Direct

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Go Direct

NJFA has done a number of blogs about Go Direct, a campaign alerting those who receive Federal Benefits (such as Social Security) that they must sign up for Direct Deposit for those benefits by March 1, 2013 as US Treasury will no longer issue paper checks after that date.

There are two options, direct deposit into your bank account or you may chose to receive your benefits on a pre-paid debit card. You can learn more at www.ssa.gov/deposit/

Today, we want to tell you that in this age of technology, scammers are finding more ways to target seniors. The Social Security Administration (SSA) reports that they have been receiving reports from identity theft victims that their monthly Social Security benefits had been sent to a different bank account or pre-paid debt card, without their knowledge or permission.

SSA and the Office of the Inspector General continue to investigate and track these cases. The incidents are related to widespread schemes, the same kind of fraudulent phone calls or emails targeting seniors that have been going on for years. Now, the scammers are using this personal information to re-direct direct deposit of Social Security benefits.

David Vinokurov of the Social Security Administration states, “to protect your identity, be wary of any calls or emails from people asking for personal information.” No legitimate company will make an unsolicited call asking for personal information like your Social Security number (SSN) or bank account. Mr. Vinokurov adds, “The Social Security Administration will never ask for your SSN, we have it.”

The SSA does not want anyone to fear signing up for Direct Deposit, they know it is a safe and convenient way for people to receive benefits. Unfortunately, scammers will always find a way to take advantage, so the best thing you can do is to closely guard your personal information. If you receive a call or email asking you for your bank account number, Social Security Number or other personal information, do not give it out. “Always pay attention to your bank statements and your credit reports” warns Mr. Vinokurov. You can receive a free credit report once a year, visit www.annualcreditreport.com to learn more.

Another safeguard through the SSA is that you can tell them that no changes may be made to your account unless you appear in person with ID, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/blockaccess

If you fear that your benefits may have been changed due to identity theft contact SSA immediately. For example, if you have not received your benefits and it is 3 to 4 days past your scheduled payment or if you receive a letter confirming a change to your direct deposit however you did not authorize this change, you should report the problem immediately to SSA.

To learn more about this type of fraud and how to report it, visit http://oig.ssa.gov/report-fraud-waste-or-abuse

 

 

 

 

The Social Security Administration Encourages You to be on the Look Out for Scams

Friday, November 30th, 2012

The Social Security Administration Encourages You to be on the Look Out for Scams

Disaster scams are still out there. The Social Security Administration (SSA) issued another warning last week. The scammers are making phone calls and sending emails, posing as FEMA or SSA employees. They ask  for your Social Security number  and bank information, stating that they need it to make sure you get your benefits. These are the same type of scammers that call or send emails claiming that you won a prize and asking you to provide information so they may send you the winnings or even asking you to pay a fee upfront.  Once the thieves have your personal information, they can use it to open credit accounts, buy homes, claim tax refunds, and commit other types of fraud. Most recently, some identity thieves have redirected Social Security beneficiaries’ monthly benefit payments, so the money goes to a different bank account, sometimes repeatedly.

To help prevent this type of fraud, the Inspector General recommends that you:

  • never provide your personal information when receiving unsolicited calls or contacts
  • never agree to accept pre-paid debit cards or credit cards in another person’s name
  • never agree to send or wire money to an unknown person
  • always contact your local SSA office if you receive a call from a person claiming to be from SSA, and that person asks you to provide your Social Security number or other information.

To verify the legitimacy of a caller who claims to be an SSA employee, call your local Social Security office, or Social Security’s toll-free customer service number at 1-800-772-1213. Deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals can call Social Security’s TTY number at 1-800-325-0778.

If you find that someone has stolen or is using your personal information, you should report that to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/idtheft or 1-877-ID-THEFT.  You can report suspicious activity involving Social Security programs and operations to the Social Security Fraud Hotline, or by phone at 1-800-269-0271. Deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals can call OIG’s TTY number at 1-866-501-2101.

Fraud is still out there.

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Fraud is still out there.

Scammers continue to target seniors.

The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, a non-profit organization, conducted a survey of financial planners. In this survey they found that seniors who become victims of financial abuse lose an estimated $140,500.

The financial planners surveyed indicated that seniors who were victims of “unfair, deceptive or abusive practices” were often scammed through misleading marketing schemes. As we have said before, there is no such thing as a free lunch. But often that is just what the scammers do is lure seniors in with a seminar where they get a free lunch. The catch is that is really a sales pitch for misleading or fraudulent investments. 73% of the advisors surveyed said they knew a senior that was invited to this type of “free lunch” seminar.

The financial advisors also stated that they knew of seniors getting unsolicited pitches at home through the mail, e-mail, or the phone. While these type of investment scams, reverse mortgage scams and even sweepstakes scams are prevalent, sometimes seniors are also victims of fraud committed by someone they know. Of the planners surveyed, 35 % of them reported that they knew of at least one case were an elder was the victim of financial abuse by someone they knew. And another 20% said that the perpetrator was the guardian or Power of Attorney for the senior.

And the types of fraud don’t end there either. 83% of the advisors surveyed stated that seniors have been scammed by other financial advisors. Just like the “free lunch” seminars, there are financial advisors out there that have offered inappropriate financial products to seniors, as well as, misrepresented or omitted information about the costs and risks of those products.

Despite the fact that these types of fraud result in big losses for seniors, only 16% actually report the abuse to authorities. Many things can deter seniors from reporting crime, if the perpetrator is a family member they may not want to press charges or they may be afraid to report them. Some seniors may be embarrassed to admit they feel for a scheme, for fear people will think they are feeble. Or, they may be experiencing cognitive impairment or dementia and don’t want to admit that either.

It is important to make sure the people you’ve selected or hired to help with your finances are trustworthy. It never hurts to obtain a second opinion about any investment advice. If you think you’ve been the victim of financial abuse or fraud, please report it. If you are concerned that a loved one may have been taken advantage of, encourage them to report it or make the call yourself.

You can report financial abuse to the police. You can also reach out to your County Office on Aging to find out about programs or services. To report any elder abuse concern please contact your County Adult Protective service agency.

To find your County Office on Aging phone # visit, www.njfoundationforaging.org/services.html or call 1-877-222-3737.

To find your County’s Adult Protective Service agency visit: http://www.state.nj.us/health/senior/adultpsp.shtml

or call 1-800-792-8820