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CONNECT TO | The Network
June 2010
 

Take Action
Protect Yourself From Consumer Fraud

The State of Ohio has launched a new Take Action: Protect Yourself from Fraud initiative that educates consumers about insurance fraud and financial exploitation.

The initiative targets seniors and their caregivers because statistics show that seniors attract 30 percent of reported fraud and are three times more likely to become fraud victims. The boomer generation will reach 71 million over the next several decades - a huge population ripe for financial exploitation.

Take Action: Protect Yourself from Fraud

The Ohio Department of Aging assisted in creating Take Action resources and plays a key role in outreach to older Ohioans and their caregivers. There are growing trends in insurance and annuities fraud especially targeted at older people. This initiative strives to help older Ohio consumers educate themselves to avoid financial exploitation. It also serves as a resource so people know where to turn to report fraud across the state.

Ohioans are living longer, more active lives. With this longevity comes an increased need for individuals and families to plan for their future financial and health care needs as early as possible. For many people, these decisions can be intimidating. They may believe that insurance products and investments are too difficult to understand, or they may be afraid of making the wrong decisions. As a result, they end up doing nothing or trusting others to keep their best interests in mind. This is the worst thing a consumer could do.

Take Action initially will focus on alerting consumers to types of deceptive sales practices and schemes currently occurring in annuities, living trusts, stranger-originated life insurance (STOLI), reverse mortgages, Medicare sales and health care fraud. Take Action also assists Ohioans in safeguarding their online information and warding off unwanted telemarketers and spammers.

An interactive Web site, www.takeaction.ohio.gov, is filled with tips on how to recognize, avoid and report fraud. Visitors can stay informed about the latest fraud news and alerts. The Web site will publish consumer stories about successful encounters overcoming fraud, and directs consumers to the right offices and agencies within Ohio's state government for information and to report consumer fraud. Ohioans also can visit www.takeaction.ohio.gov to read or order copies of the Take Action: Protect Yourself From Fraud consumer guide, which provides background facts on areas where people are exploited and serves as a workbook, listing important questions to ask.

In addition, senior groups and associations can request a speaker or a panel of government experts to talk about fraud. Representatives from the Ohio Departments of Insurance, Aging and Commerce, the Office of Attorney General Richard Cordray, the Office of State Treasurer Kevin Boyce and the Ohio Consumers' Counsel will participate on panels.

The easiest weapon people can use to protect themselves from fraud is to recognize it when they see it - before their money lines somebody else's pocket.

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Scammers Target Ohio Medicare Recipients
The Ohio Attorney General's Office has seen an influx of complaints about scammers who reference the Medicare program to get consumer information. Ohioans need to be wary of unsolicited phone calls from "Medicare" seeking personal information. In a common example, callers claimed that they needed consumers' information to issue a new benefits card and threatened to terminate the consumers' benefits if they did not provide that information. Medicare representatives never require bank account information and Ohioans should never give out personal information through unsolicited contact, whether it be by phone, mail or e-mail. To report a scam or to file a consumer complaint, contact Attorney General Cordray's office at www.SpeakOutOhio.gov or 1-800-282-0515.

Aging Eye Summit - June 16, 2010
Register for the Aging Eye Summit, to be held Wednesday, June 16, 2010, at The Ohio State University Havener Eye Institute, 915 Olentangy River Road, Columbus. Learn from experts about the treatment of diabetes and diabetic eye disease, including cataract, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and macular edema. Presenters will share the latest research and treatment initiatives, current strategies for prevention, public health perspectives and resources. Contact Laura Schwartz at (614) 464-2020, ext. 112 or 1-800-301-2020 with questions. The Aging Eye Summit is sponsored by Prevent Blindness Ohio, Ohio's Aging Eye Public Private Partnership and the Havener Eye Institute.