There's a new scam every day. A Census worker needs your Social Security number to verify your identity. A "charity" needs your bank account number to provide health care to Haitian children. An e-mail needs you to click on a link for a "free" trial offer.
National Consumer Protection week is March 6-12.
Here are some general tips to avoid scams:
1. Don't give out your Social Security, Medicare and bank account numbers over the telephone. They can be used against you. Information such as the names of your children or grandchildren can also be used against you.
2. Beware of callers who say they're from an organization such as Medicare, and they need to know your Medicare number. If they truly were from Medicare, they wouldn't need to ask. Nor would they call or visit your home unless you called them first.
3. Never purchase items online from a Web site that you've found from an e-mail link. It could be a fraudulent site. If you know the name of an organization you want to do business with, go to its Web site on your own. Only buy from secure Web sites those with "https" as part of their Web addresses.
4. If a charity calls wanting a donation and you'd like to donate, hang up, look up the name of the charity and call yourself. The caller might not have been from the organization at all or might have been a middleman who funnels little of the donation to the charity.
The Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) program, funded by the U.S. Administration on Aging, educates and empowers seniors to prevent, identify and report health care fraud and abuse. ND SMP is a free service which provides one-on-one assistance with Medicare fraud and scams. Contact us at 1-800-233-1737 or 858-3580 for more information, or if you think you've been scammed.
National Consumer Protection week is a coordinated consumer-education campaign. For more information, go to (www.ncpw.gov). ND SMP is a project of the North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities, which is located on Minot State University's campus.
Linda Madsen is project director for N.D. Center for Persons with Disabilities in Minot and for the N.D. Senior Medicare Patrol program in North Dakota.