Do you realize Medicare does not have an office and the Social Security Administration offices are located in regional areas? To find your Medicare answers, a person calls an 800 number or accesses the Web site to search for answers. Complex!
The latest issues I have been hearing about include over selling of Part D prescription plans or selling insurance plans that combine Medicare Part A, B, and D without the senior understanding what this plan does to their current situation. I recommend all seniors and their adult children read their "Medicare and You 2006" book.
This leads us to the last three letters of SCAM and a person can then understand why fraud is so prevalent in today's society. A local resource for Medicare fraud is the Medicare Assistance Program in Sioux Falls. You can reach this office by calling 1-800-822-8804 or check out the Web site www.medicareassistanceprogram.org.
Previously, the S of scam was discussed We will now go on to the last three letters.
Check your statements. Look for unauthorized charges, withdrawals or debits to your accounts. If you see anything suspicious, contact your credit card company or bank immediately.
Ask to see your credit report. Look over your credit report occasionally to review the accounts listed. This will serve as a listing of all of your accounts and your standing with those companies.
Maintain careful records of your accounts. Realize that even being careful cannot protect you 100percent against fraud. The better you keep track of your finances, the more apt you are to catch the problem and get it rectified.
For more information check out www.usdoj.gov or stop in at your local Extension office.
Clay Co. Extension Educator
In the days of technology, many more threats of fraud are appearing. ATM machines, on-line banking, debit cards or credit cards, cash or checks give the consumer many opportunities for purchasing or delaying payment. Today�s youth are experiencing money transactions in ways that I would never have imagined when I was their age.
According to the Department of Justice, protecting yourself against fraud is as easy as remembering the word �SCAM.�
S � Be Stingy about what information you give out.
Over the phone: Do not give out personal information to someone over the phone unless you initiate the call. If someone calls and asks for personal information, ask them to send it to you in writing. Even then, use good judgment about what information you are giving and that it is going to a reputable company or agency. To be sure, contact the Better Business Bureau.
In the mail: Avoid placing outgoing mail in your mailbox to be picked up by the mail carrier. This is a �red flag� for thieves that are just looking for a way to get your personal information. Some will even go through your trash to get personal information! Be sure to tear up or shred any mail or documents that contain account numbers, pin numbers or any other personal information.
Online: Be wary of giving out personal information online. Online bill pay is a nice option for last minute payments, but is it safe? Even secured sites should be questioned. Make sure to think about where that information is going and whether you trust that the information is getting there without any detours through �questionable� hands. If you are unsure of the safety of your information online, many companies offer the option of calling an 800 number to purchase from the site. It may take longer, but you could also use the option of a money order or personal check.
Checking accounts: The more information you put on your personal checks, the more you are giving out routinely to perfect strangers. Avoid putting your social security number, phone number or your birth date on your checks and be wary of those asking you to include them.
When you travel: Have the post office hold your mail or have a trusted friend or family member pick it up while you are gone. Mail billowing out of our mailbox is a sign that you are away and makes you an easy target for theft.
When using public phones to talk about personal information, be wary of those around you that could hear what you are talking about.