Michael J. Gopin is a lawyer who represents a diverse range of clients in El Paso, Texas. Now, Gopin is speaking out on how ever-changing healthcare laws are making seniors vulnerable to scams. As these policies evolve, seniors become confused, which is an issue that scammers are quickly capitalizing on. Everyone from small-time fraudsters looking to earn some quick cash to major organized crime rings are preying on uncertain seniors.
Evelyne Louis Such has seen these scams firsthand. She recalls how an individual called her home stating that he was sending out new Medicare cards and wanted to make sure he had her information correct. He then proceeded to ask for her banking information. Such hung up, but many other seniors are not as fortunate. They trust the person on the other end of the phone, and reveal this private information, thus resulting in significant loss or identity theft.
Such comments on this new rise in crime against seniors stating, “There are some seniors who aren’t well, and don’t think as well as they used to, and it just made me angry that they would be victimized like that.”
Michael J. Gopin comments, “Unfortunately, seniors regularly fall victim to these kinds of scams. It is worsened when laws are changing, and these people become unsure what to trust or believe. It’s important that loved ones of these elderly individuals provide support and guidance to help protect their seniors from fraud and loss.”
Law enforcement groups say that there are an increasing number of these kinds of health insurance scams popping up around the country. Con artists are taking advantage of the public’s confusion over changes to the nation’s health care system, and are particularly focused on seniors.
The reason for targeting elderly individuals is because they are often home to answer the phone, and many have retirement savings in place that the fraudsters hope to gain access to. However, the federal government received nearly 83,000 complaints of scams last year, up 12 percent from the year before, and many victims were not elderly people.
Michael J. Gopin notes, “Anyone, regardless of age, is vulnerable when it comes to these types of scams. A person should always think carefully before revealing personal information to any other individual or group. Even if the questions seem to come from a reputable organization, never give out your Social Security number or banking information. If you have doubts about whether the questions are legitimate, reach out to the organization’s headquarters before offering personal details.”
James Quiggle, the communications director at the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud based in Washington D.C., says, “America is rife with health scams. Crooks are offering fake health coverage, stripped-down policies masquerading as real coverage. They’re also selling what is fake Obamacare coverage.”
The problem is that scammers are just as aware of national developments as others, therefore making it easy for them to see opportunities to capitalize on vulnerable people. Other examples of popular scams include when individuals were setting up funds that claimed to help victims of Katrina before the storm had even hit land. They then took the donations and pocketed them. The recent healthcare scams are no different than these false charitable organizations.
Sally Hurme, an elder law attorney at AARP, comments on the issue of healthcare scams aimed at seniors explaining, “Many people see through these sorts of simple scams, but even if one in a thousand falls for the scam and gives up info or agrees to send information off to who knows where, they’ve made the scammer’s day. That’s what their job is.”
To stay safe from scams, seniors should not take phone calls that come out of the blue from someone who claims to want to help provide guidance about the new health care policies. These calls are almost always scams, and can result in serious consequences in terms of loss and identity theft. Should a suspicious call come in, an individual should just hang up, and should always use caution when it comes to answering questions from the person on the other end of the line.
Michael J. Gopin advises seniors to learn the warning signs of such scams, and encourages family members and friends to provide education and support when it comes to keeping their elderly loved ones safe.
Michael J. Gopin is an attorney who owns his own law practice. He and his team provide advice on personal injury and other cases to their clients who reside in El Paso, Texas. Michael graduated from the University of Texas in Austin in 1983, and passed the bar exam in 1987. He is actively involved with philanthropic efforts, and supports the Boys and Girls Club of El Paso, the El Paso Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, and the El Paso opera. Michael offers free consultations to prospective clients, where he shows these individuals how he and his team could help provide them with comprehensive representation.