Fraud for the ages
THE AGING POPULATION is a common target
for fraudsters and scam artists. As people grow older,
they are confronted with a slew of new medical and
consumer needs. Meanwhile, hucksters promote
false cures and magical remedies that do nothing
more than separate seniors from their money.
Unfortunately, these fraudsters prey on hope.
Unproven remedies promise false hope. Some cures
appear to be painless or quick. At best, these treatments are worthless. At worst, they are dangerous.
A magical pill that can halt the aging process
simply does not exist. However, several products are
touted as “magical solutions” to the aging process.
Here is how to identify them:
A claim that the seller’s work or message is
being suppressed by the scientific establishment
Usage of phrases such as “scientific breakthrough,” “exclusive product,” “secret ingredient” or
No mention of potential side effects, and
claims that sound too good to be true
Off-label uses that claim to be alternatives to
traditional and U.S. Food and Drug Administration–
approved uses of medications
Some companies target elderly people who are
unable to get health insurance due to preexisting
conditions. They offer coverage that promises more
than it intends to deliver. If you are thinking about
buying health insurance, find out if the company
and agent are licensed in your state. Particularly
beware of phony medical discount cards and fake
In scams involving phony medical discount
cards, consumers are lured into buying “discount
programs” that appear to offer full medical coverage
and promise discounts on doctor’s office visits, hospitalizations, dental work, prescription drugs, tests
and medical procedures.
In scams involving fake medical insurance, con
artists sell partial or comprehensive health insurance coverage and then pay little or nothing on consumers’ claims.
Here are some warning signs that an offer is
likely to be a scam:
You receive a persistent barrage of phone and
email messages or see flyers offering incredibly low-priced deals.
You’re pressured to sign up now because the
deal won’t last. The sales rep may even demand personal financial details before a “policy” can be issued.
The salesperson claims to be working for a
government agency or working on an officially
The terms of the insurance are just too good
to be true.
The salesperson says you must join an association or union to get the coverage you need. The
organization may not even exist or may not be relevant to your interests, but the use of the name
seems to make the deal more credible.
Check the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud’s
watch list of health plans to avoid (
fraud.org). Get the website and phone number for any company you’re thinking of
doing business with. Investigate the company. Do not respond to plans offered
through faxes from strangers, emails, tele-marketers or door-to-door salespeople.
MY WIFE and I are fighting
a losing battle against [an
insurance company] for
claim denial. Our next-door
neighbor has a white alder
tree that is causing extensive damage to our retain-ing wall and concrete
driveway. [The insurance
company] states that their
client had no prior knowledge that the tree would
cause this kind of damage,
and therefore will not cover
the damages. What kind of
recourse do I have?
Alta Loma, California
Call your state’s insurance department to check the license of every
company and insurance agent
you deal with.
Help with fraud
The Federal Trade Commission (
www.ftc.gov) can help
you spot fraud. The Food and
Drug Administration ( www.
fda.gov) ensures the safety of
prescription drugs, biological
products, medical devices,
food, cosmetics and radiation-emitting items. If you have
questions about a product, talk
to your doctor. Getting the facts
about healthcare products can
help protect you.
Other sources include
watch.org) and the National
Institute on Aging, (
THE FIRST THING you
should do is contact the
state department of agri-
culture, as they may
neighbor to cut
down the tree.
If that doesn’t
pany] for the
amount of the
claim. Since you
insurance, you are
paying for them to
fight this battle, so
demand that they do.
This will give you the
leverage you need.
Good luck, and do not
give up this fight.
David Horowitz is a leading consumer advocate (
He is a frequent guest on radio and television stations. Consult your
local listings for dates and times.
© 2011 FIGHT BACK! INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
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