Recent Fraud and Scam Alerts
Sadly, while reports of scams and fraudulent activity were initially included with news items of interest on the site, it became clear that there were enough reports to merit a page of their own. Now we've collected enough to separate them by year.
Tennessee seniors deserve better than to be victimized in what should be their golden years. The best defensive strategy is knowledge and awareness of criminal behavior. It is much harder for con artists to succeed if you shut them out. Visit this page regularly for tips on the latest scams, targets, and appropriate responses. In almost every case, the headline for each warning is a link back to the full, original report.
The Better Business Bureau maintains its Scam Tracker online. You may also find useful information on AARP's Scams and Frauds and Fraud Watch Network pages, as well as this site's own page on combating fraud. Additionally, reports and tips regarding fraud are available online from the Office of Inspector General and the Federal Trade Commission.
And if you're here because you've already been a victim (or think you may be a victim) and want to know how to respond, visit: Scammed. Now What?
You may have already received calls during the past year about medical braces; you don't have to be suffering from a muskuloskeletal condition to have been contacted. Whether you need them or not, you do need to be aware of this international scam, a scam that has already collected the information of many thousands of Medicare beneficiaries for current, as well as potentially future, Medicare fraud.
Telemarketers have been casting their nets wide, looking for anyone who would believe they could receive medical grade braces for "free." There were television and radio ads, as well, encouraging people to call. In many cases, victims were offered equipment (back, knee and neck braces) they didn't even need. They may also have been referred to other fraudulent sources for additional services, or prescriptions, they likewise didn't need. But if victims provided their Medicare information, equipment may have been sent and Medicare fraudulently billed. That can create problems for victims in the future when attempting to access legitimate Medicare benefits.
Read the alert from the Department of Health and Human Services warning the public about this scam.
Added April 12, 2019
Social Security Administration Warns: Fraudulent Calls
From the Social Security Administration:
"We have become aware of reports of fraudulent telephone calls from individuals claiming to represent the Social Security Administration (SSA). In them, unknown callers are using threatening language to warn unknowing victims that they will be arrested or face other legal action if they fail to call a provided phone number or press the number indicated in the message to address the issue. In some instances, these unknown callers switch tactics and communicate that they want to help an individual with activating a suspended Social Security number. Such calls are a scam, and are not coming from official SSA representatives."
Do not engage with such callers, and "report any suspicious calls to Social Security’s Office of the Inspector General by calling 1-800-269-0271 or submitting a report on the OIG website. We also urge you to read and share our Social Security Matters blog, which provides more information on the nature of these fraudulent calls, as well as instructions on how to report such activity."
Added January 23, 2019
Nashville's WKRN News Channel 2 passes along a warning from the Tennessee Department of Commerce: Don't fall for scams requiring you to pay fake debts with a prepaid gift card; and when you do buy gift cards, buy from a known and trusted seller. The Department of Commerce and Insurance offers more information on scams, as well as a list of consumer alerts. WKRN also devotes a page to consumer alerts, including scams.
Added December 2018
Be Cautious When Donating During and After Natural Disasters
The Federal Trade Commission is reminding the public to look closely at charities before donating during, or after, a natural disaster "because scammers are hoping that generous people like you, in your eagerness to help, won’t do your homework so they can steal that money. The best way to avoid this and other kinds of charity fraud is to go online and do your research to make sure your money goes to a reputable organization."
This advice is good for any kind of disaster. In Tennessee, we are far more likely to experience loss from tornado outbreaks, fires or floods, but scammers will still look to take advantage of people with fraudulent offers of home repair or charitable collection. Again, always do your homework. The impulse to give is a good one, just don't do it impulsively. Giving your money to the wrong person or organization doesn't help the people who truly need assistance.
Visit the FTC's blog to begin learning about the best ways to safely and reliably help others.
Added September 13, 2018
Nashville's WKRN reminds us of some of the most common scams and quotes Metro Nashville Police Department's Sergeant Michael Warren about increasingly common phone scams: “Caller ID means nothing. Take a caller ID as a suggestion,” said Sgt. Warren. “This may be who you are talking to but it's definitely not definitive of who you are talking to.”
And remember: Anytime anyone pressures you to pay quickly a debt you question, and especially if someone pressures you to pay with a prepaid card, you should immediately become suspicious.
Added July 2, 2018
Nashville's News Channel 5 passes along a Better Business Bureau warning about a solicitation letter targeted primarily at senior citizens' fear of losing their Social Security benefits. These letters are asking for money, donations, to help pay for legislative efforts to protect Social Security. It looks official, but seniors are more than likely giving away their money to no good end.
As the story advises: If you want to help protect Social Security benefits, contact your elected officials and tell them how important the program is. It's something everyone can do, and it's free.
Added June 11, 2018
If you see your own number appear in your caller ID, it's better not to answer. Nashville's WKRN shares a story about people answering calls from their own numbers only to be told their phone accounts have been "hacked." The callers then ask for verification of personal information, like a social security number. HANG UP.
Never provide personal information to strangers, whether in person or over the phone. If you receive a call from someone claiming to represent one of your utilities or service providers and they ask you for sensitive information, end the call and use a known, good number to contact the business yourself. That way, you can be sure about the person on the other end of the line before you begin sharing information that could be used to steal your identity or your money.
Added June 11, 2018