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Consumer Scams and Alerts

Consumer Scams and Alerts

The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection is a state government agencythat protects people from scams, unfair businesses and unsafe products. Visit their website to learn about identity theft, Internet safety for consumers, scams and more.

The FTC maintains a scam alert page where you can browse reported scams by topic, get practical tips, and get scam alerts by email:


Grandparent Scam:

The “Grandparent Scam” has been perpetrated for several years and continues to impact elders throughout the country. There are many variations but the basic plot is simple: a young person contacts the would-be victim, saying, “It’s your grandson (or granddaughter) and I’m in trouble. I need money (to get out of jail, to get home, etc.). I’m embarrassed, so don’t tell Mom (or Dad, or anyone).” The grandparent is then instructed to wire money to a “friend” who will give the funds to the grandchild.

What is particularly insidious about this scheme is that it preys upon the sympathy and concern that an older individual has for his or relative. Despite warnings from aging services and law enforcement, the “Grandparent Scam” has operated successfully to bilk millions of dollars from thousands of victims. In 2010, the Federal Trade Commission reported receiving 60,000 complaints from victims who lost an average of $3500.

The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) recently teamed up with Western Union to create an entertaining but informative video as the cornerstone of a campaign to combat the scam. The video (accessible through the link above) uses wit and style to present the warning in an engaging manner.

AARP Online Tools Help Connecticut Residents Spot Medicare Errors and Fight Fraud:

The AARP has two new online tools to help Connecticut’s Medicare beneficiaries better understand their quarterly Medicare Summary Notices. Medicare Summary Notices list the medical services and supplies billed to Medicare for their care. A careful reading of each Medicare Summary Notice can help consumers identify and report health care fraud.

AARP has created two Medicare Summary Notice “decoders”; one for Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and one for Medicare Part B (medical insurance). These new Medicare Summary Notice “decoders,” available at www.aarp.org/healthtools, provide visitors with an easy-to-use, interactive sample notice. Clicking on each section of the page displays details to help users understand their Medicare statement and out-of-pocket health expenses, and potentially spot suspicious charges.

AARP encourages seniors and their caregivers to review their notices regularly and follow these important tips to spot and report errors or fraud:

• Compare your bills. Do the dates, billing codes and the service descriptions on your Medicare Summary Notice match the statements and invoices from your doctor and other health care providers? In some instances, your notice may include valid charges for services or supplies you weren’t aware you received—such as for medical consultations or tests. But, as a general rule, the dates and codes should match. If you don’t see codes or other needed details on your provider's paperwork, ask for copies that include that information.

• Contact your provider. If you see an entry for services or supplies you believe you did not receive, contact the doctor or supplier listed. It may be a simple mistake that can be easily corrected. If it is, the corrected entry should appear on your next Medicare Summary Notice. If there’s an entry for services or supplies that Medicare did not cover, but you believe is a covered service, call your medical provider’s office to make sure the claim was submitted correctly. If it wasn’t, ask the office to resubmit it.

• Contact Medicare. If you still have questions about your Medicare Summary Notice, or there’s something you and your health care provider cannot resolve, call 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227).

• Appeal a claim. If Medicare has not paid a claim you think it should have, you have the right to appeal. AARP’s decoders link to more information about appealing a claim.

AARP’s Medicare Summary Notice decoders are part of a suite of tools to help people navigate the health care system and save money on their care. AARP’s health tools can be found at www.aarp.org/healthtools.

Call Legal Aid for Help

If you are 60 or older, call your local legal aid office.

Eastern CT (Willimantic area): 800-413-7796 or 860-456-1761

Western CT (Waterbury/Litchfield County): 800-413-7797 or 203-756-8074

Southwestern CT: 800-809-4434 or 203-336-3851 (Bridgeport) or 203-348-9216 (Stamford)

Northcentral CT (Hartford area): 860-541-5000

Southcentral CT: 203-946-4811
(New Haven)

Click here for more information.