A retirement community is a great place to spend your post-career days with like minded people, but retirement communities are prime targets for telemarketing and mail scammers looking to take advantage of a concentrated elderly community.
Medicare fraud, in particular, has grown into a a $60 billion industry, admits the federal government.
As part of a series of education sessions with residents of Sun City Center in southern Hillsborough County, Ericka Duncan of Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) is teaching senior citizens how to spot and avoid scams that target them.
"Medicare does not call you, and they will never visit you at home," said Duncan at a session on Tuesday afternoon. "Do not show salespeople your information. That is somebody who is trying to defraud Medicare. And if you do it and you know they're trying to defraud Medicare just so you can get that free item, now you're essentially robbing yourself of your Medicare funds."
Hillsborough County's Consumer Protection Services Office says they don't get a large number of Medicare fraud complaints, but do get around 50 to 75 complaints of potential cases of some kind of fraud every month.
They also estimate they manage to save county residents about $30,000 to $45,000 a month in money returned from fraud cases.
eQHealth Health Solutions is the nonprofit organization that manages the SMP program for Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida.
SMPs are grant-funded projects of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and U.S. Administration for Community Living, which aims to "empower and assist Medicare beneficiaries, their families, and caregivers to prevent, detect, and report health care fraud, errors, and abuse through outreach, counseling, and education," says the company.