Officials Report that Medical Phone Scams on the Rise in Montana

Montanans need to beware of callers trying to obtain personal information
The Montana Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) program has recently received several reports of apparent telephone scams across Montana in which callers are trying to get personal information under the guise of updating or renewing Medical cards. The callers already have the bank routing numbers and have all tried to obtain bank account numbers.
“Medicare will never call you because they already have your information,” said Renee Labrie-Shanks, Montana SMP Program Manager. “Anyone calling to talk about changes to Medicare, or anything to do with the Affordable Care Act, is a scammer.” Additionally, since these calls use the generic term “medical”, it leaves people more apt to assign it to whatever is going on in their lives at the moment. In one case, someone just renewed their Medicare Part D plan and assumed this had something to do with that and gave out their number.
If you should receive a call from someone trying to collect your personal information, do not tell them anything, she advises. Instead, try to gather as much information as you can about the person calling, and then report the calls. If you did give out your bank account information, speak to your bank immediately and possibly even close your account. You can report any suspicious or potentially fraudulent healthcare calls to your local Montana SMP by calling 1-800-332-2272.
Montana SMP is a statewide program which fights healthcare fraud by educating older adults on how to protect, detect and report fraud. Missoula Aging Services administers the program through partner organizations around the state.
For more information on medical identity theft, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s site on this topic here.

Help End Elder Abuse in Montana

Say NO to elder abuse in Montana! Tell your State Senator to Support SB134!

The Montana Elder Abuse Prevention Act is not working for seniors or the prosecutors that want to charge abusers through this law. Senator John Brenden has proposed Senate Bill 134 that will revise and strengthen the Montana Elder Abuse Prevention Act, so it can be used by prosecutors to charge criminals with financial and physical abuse. This is a good bill that should be passed by the Montana Senate and is supported by AARP Montana.

The current law has only been used in 65 cases, even though Montana Adult Protective Services reported over 5,500 reports of elder abuse throughout the state in 2010.
Montana’s population of seniors is rapidly growing and accounts of elder abuse will only increase. Abusers need to be held accountable for their actions.
Your help is needed to send a strong message to your legislators urging their support for SB134.
You can send your message here.

BBB Cautions Consumers to Watch Out for Scammers in Wake of Newtown School Shootings

Do your Research Before Making Donations to Victims' Family Funds.
Better Business Bureau is alerting consumers to reports of phony charity solicitations, supposedly on behalf of the families of victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, CT on Friday.
BBB recommends donors avoid giving to charities or funds through unsolicited phone calls, emails, texts or social media appeals. Charity scammers strike after natural catastrophes such as hurricanes, floods and earthquakes, as well as tragedies such as the Colorado theater shootings and now the Newtown school massacre.
BBB urges donors to:
– Do your homework: Always research a charity at the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance website, before donating money.
– Select a charity yourself: Charity cheats will use every method at their disposal to reach out to generous Americans in times of tragedy. However, rather than replying to a charity appeal, BBB recommends choosing a well-known charity or one that has been endorsed by local or state authorities in the aftermath of a tragedy.
– Contact charities directly: Never click on links to charities on unfamiliar websites or in texts or emails. These may take you to a lookalike website where you will be asked to provide financial information, or download harmful malware into your computer.
Donors may contribute to a victims' family fund through a collaborative effort between The United Way and Newtown Savings Bank.
Donations may be sent to:
Sandy Hook School Support Fund
c/o Newtown Savings Banks
39 Main Street
Newtown, CT 06470.
If you are unsure if a solicitation for donations is legitimate or not, please contact your Better Business Bureau at 509-455-4200 or email