CONCORD – New frauds and scams seem to crop up weekly. Identity theft and other scams rob millions of Americans of their hard-earned money. Last year alone, Americans lost $18 billion to fraud and scams. In fact, every two seconds, a con artist steals someone’s identity.

What tricks do con artists use to steal your money? How can you outsmart scammers before they strike? Beat the con artists at their game. Check out this month’s scam alerts and don’t get taken in with the fraudsters’ tricks.

Oh, and if you would like to host a top frauds and scams presentation in your community, send us an email at nh@aarp.org. We have a corps of trained volunteers who can bring to you a one-hour top frauds and scams presentation. Free of charge!

So, here are some more frauds and scams which may be coming to you!

Medicare fraud 101

According to government estimates, Medicare lost $52 billion to fraud, abuse and improper billing in FY2017. Medicare fraud typically involves rogue health care providers or medical suppliers who bill the program for services, equipment or medication that they don’t actually provide – or else inflate the cost of those items.

Some will even falsify patients’ diagnoses to justify unnecessary tests, surgeries and other procedures or write prescriptions for patients they’ve never examined. Others use genuine patient information, sometimes obtained through identity theft, to create fake claims.

One of the most effective ways to combat against Medicare fraud is to review your Medicare statements and make sure the dates and services listed are correct. If something doesn’t look right, call your medical provider’s office.

Do me a favor scam

We all want to please our bosses, especially when they need help. This fact is not lost on some scammers who have started sending fake boss messages asking employees for a favor.

Several reports have emerged this summer of employees getting texts or emails from their “boss” asking them to purchase gift cards and send the account numbers. The supposed boss might be traveling or claim they are too busy to take care of the task. But once the gift cards are purchased and the information sent, the money is gone.

Because scammers are good at spoofing email addresses and phone numbers, you don’t always know when your boss really is your boss. However, whenever you are asked to purchase a gift card and give out the card information by phone or email, it is likely a scam.

College scholarship scam

It’s back-to-school season and for many parents and grandparents of college students, that means looking for ways to help pay for school.

Please be aware of scholarship, financial aid and government grant scams. Fraudsters guarantee to award a scholarship as long as you pay an up-front processing fee for their services. But then you never see any scholarship money.

To apply for true federal student aid, use the FASA official online form, which is free to submit. Save your money and put it toward education instead.

Free medicare device scam

One tell-tale sign that should make every consumer suspicious is when something is offered “for free.” These free offer scams are often associated with Medicare. The programs spends around $6 billion a year on medical devices, and a market this big draws scammers.

In a medical equipment scam, someone reaches out with an offer of a free brace, wheelchair or other device. All they need is your Medicare number. Once they have it, scammers can use it to bill the government for devices and services that aren’t needed.

Medicare fraud results in higher deductibles and copays for Medicare beneficiaries, and can even put affected patients at risk. Be suspicious of unsolicited free offers and never give out your Medicare number to anyone who isn’t a trusted health care provider.

Get more information on frauds and scams at AARP’s Fraud Watch Network at aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork. Sign up for Watchdog Alerts and stay alert on con artist’s latest tricks. It’s free of charge for everyone – AARP members, non-members, general public and people of all ages.

Be a fraud fighter! If you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam.

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