Iowa Senior Medicare Patrol Newsletter- June, 2014

June, 2014 Monthly News You Can Use

Medicare-Themed Suspicious Calls in Iowa

            Senior Medicare Patrol has received reports that callers who state they are with Medicare, want to know if you have knee pain or back pain.  One senior reported that when she told the caller Medicare doesn’t make these types of calls, the caller tried to convince here that Medicare does indeed make such calls and wants to provide approved equipment to help relieve pain.   

            FACT: Medicare does want to pay for equipment designed to reduce your knee or back pain IF you and your doctor discuss it first. Then the doctor provides a prescription for equipment and you use your prescription with a legitimate supply company.  Everything should happen in that order.  

            FICTION: Medicare does not make calls to ask about your medical symptoms or promote any products of any kind.  Medicare does not call to verify your Medicare number, Social Security number or bank account information.  

            If you receive such a call, please report details about the call to Iowa Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) at 1-800-423-2449.  If you receive such a call and give out your Medicare or Social Security number, call SMP for advice about watching your Medicare notices and credit report.  If you give out your bank account information,  contact your bank immediately to report what happened so they can help protect your bank account. 

Is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Calling You?

            Unfortunately scam callers know that people listen closely when the “IRS” is mentioned.  Senior Medicare Patrol has learned that suspicious calls are being made in Iowa in the name of the IRS.  One senior described to us that the caller said there was a “case” against her and would be “in court” soon.  The caller told her he had a “badge number” and gave it to her, as well as a “case number.”  Although the scammer called her more than once, she didn’t let the call go on long enough to hear what kind of personal information he wanted.  But this is certainly a scam; IRS does not phone people out of the blue to inform them there’s some type of “case” against them. 

The following information is from www.irs.gov.  “If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do.

  1. If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue – if there really is such an issue.
  2. If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you’ve never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats ….), then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484.
  3. If you’ve been targeted by this scam, you should also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at www.FTC.gov.  Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments of your complaint. “  

Deceptive Advertising for Health Products

            The Federal Trade Commission recently issued important information for persons looking for over-the-counter health aids marketed to prevent or cure common health problems.  This is a reprint of part of an article titled, “What’s in a health claim?  Should be a healthy dose of proof. “

            “Name a common health concern and there’s probably a dietary supplement that promises a solution.  But when advertised promises aren’t backed up with adequate proof, the Federal Trade Commission sees a problem.  The makes of the BrainStrong Adult dietary supplement agreed to settle FTC charges of deceptive advertising for making unsupported health claims about BrainStrong with DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid. The companies said the product was clinically proven to improve adult memory and would prevent cognitive decline.  But the research cited didn’t support these claims. ….  Thousands of people paid about $30 for a 30-day supply of the product…. Before you start taking any dietary supplement, check with your health care professional.  That’s really your best source on whether a supplement is safe for you.”  To read the complete article go to http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog  and look for this article by title.   

  • News prepared by Deb Yankey, Iowa Senior Medicare Patrol Coordinator, Northeast Iowa Area Agency on Aging (NEI3A), Waterloo, IA,  dyankey@nei3a.org

This document was supported, in part, by Grant #90MP0161-03, from the Administration for Community Living/Administration on Aging, Department of Health and Human Services.  Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions.  Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration on Aging policy.      

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