The rapid growth of new technology has had a big impact on how people live their lives. Many advancements are used to benefit people of all ages, including older adults—social media helps people stay connected and new health apps make it easier to track wellness, for example. Despite the positive impacts that come with digital devices, many older adults have also become more vulnerable to senior scams, identity theft and fraud because of the amount of information they give out online.
Seniors in particular have been targeted for their personal information with a variety of online and phone scams, but, according to a new warning from the Colorado Senior Medicare Patrol, a new scam involving DNA testing has been used to defraud seniors on Medicare and taxpayers alike. So far, the Department of Justice has charged 35 people perpetrating the scam, but officials say genetic testing could represent a major shift in healthcare fraud.
The scheme specifically targeted older adults on Medicare by offering genetic screenings for cancer. However, those offering the screenings did so without a doctor’s referral and told patients not to worry about the costs. Medicare was billed more than $2 billion for the screenings, and many victims of the scam never received their test results.
This is just one of several scams geared toward seniors and Medicare benefits. Even though there have been no reported incidents in Colorado, state officials are still urging people to be on high alert.
At The Avenues Crofton Park, we host monthly Technology 101 workshops to help people in our community avoid fraud, keep their personal information safe, and learn more about how to navigate modern technology. Here are some quick tips to help you recognize senior scams and stay safe online:
- Know when to share personal information: Never disclose account numbers over the phone or online without verifying the business. Even if you were the one who reached out for services, consider asking if there are options to pay in-person.
- Be careful about what you throw away: Always dispose of sensitive information carefully. Invest in a shredder to help destroy bank statements, tax documents or old I.D.’s before tossing them in the trash.
- Protect your online login credentials: Stay a step ahead of hackers by changing your passwords often and using different passwords for each site. When making your password, avoid easily guessed combinations like birthdates or family members’ names.
These are just a few ways to stay ahead of major scams, but there are still many fraudsters developing more efficient ways to find and use personal information. The best way to protect yourself is by keeping track of common scams reported in your area and staying up-to-date on how to safely navigate the digital world.
This month, our Technology 101 event will focus on different types of online accounts and how to keep personal information organized. Join us on Tuesday, Oct. 15 at 3 p.m. for “Technology 101: The Difference Between Accounts, Emails and Passwords.” Click here to learn more and RSVP.
The Avenues Crofton Park offers events and specialized seminars to help seniors stay safe against scams. To learn more about our programs and events, please get in touch with our team online or by calling (720) 799-0915.