BEWARE OF FRAUD / SCAMS

We are a little isolated from the Coronavirus here in the Kern River Valley. I am seeing more visitors than we should be seeing, as supposedly people are staying at home. My wife and I are trying to support the local restaurants, as their business has diminished with no tourism.

So, we will park and eat our lunch in the car. This week, sitting in the parking lot facing Kernville’s Riverside Park, not only were people walking in the park, many were picnicking! We watched a table being abandoned, and then another party sat down—did not even clean and sanitize the table.

Children were playing on the slide and swings! Many of the people we see are coming up here and as much as we need the business, we don’t need the germs they may be bringing with them. I trust we all want to keep our valley safe.

Another major issue I’d like to warn readers about is fraud.
Unfortunately, scammers are using the COVID-19 pandemic to try to steal your Medicare Number, personal information, and money. And they’re using robocalls, social media posts, and emails to do it.

Remember, if anyone reaches out to get your Medicare Number or personal information in exchange for something, you can bet it’s a scam.

Be on the lookout, so you can stop scams before they happen. Here are recent Coronavirus scams to watch for:

•Robocalls offering you respiratory masks they’ll never send

•Social media posts fraudulently seeking donations for non-existent charities or claiming to give you stimulus funds if you enter your bank account information

•Fake testing kits, cures, “immunity” pills, and offers for protective equipment

Con artists may try to get your Medicare Number or personal information so they can steal your identity and commit Medicare fraud. Medicare fraud results in higher health care costs and taxes for everyone.

Protect yourself from Medicare fraud. Guard your Medicare card like it’s a credit card. Remember:

•Medicare will never contact you for your Medicare Number or other personal information unless you’ve given them permission in advance.

•Medicare will never call you to sell you anything.

•You may get calls from people promising you things if you give them a Medicare Number. Don’t do it.

•Medicare will never visit you at your home.

•Medicare can’t enroll you over the phone unless you called first.

I am aware that even ads for back braces, knee braces and other such ads, even advertised on television have duped people into giving away their insurance information. In return, if you get anything, it is not what was purported to be of any use. Now your identity information is there to be sold on the black market to other scammers.

Bottom line is, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is not in your best interest. Older people tend to be targets of these practices. While I don’t think of myself as being “old”, I do get email scams regularly, and I fear for the older folks who may not have a strong support system to “bounce” ideas off of. We should all try our best to be there for the seniors.

Harry P. Thal, MA, is a licensed insurance broker in California (0621106) and 24 other states. His offices are in Kernville. He is a member of the Society of Certified Senior Advisors and Past-President of the Kern Association of Health Underwriters. He may be reached at 760-376-2100, e-mail harrythal@aol.com or visit him on the web at www.harrythal.com.