Medicare scammers take a phishing trip


    By Musetta Wollenweber

    SUN Columnist

    Traveling always presents its challenges and I ran into my first one while in Albuquerque with my dad for his eye surgery last Friday — issues with connecting to the Internet.

    Seriously, Internet, I need to connect. I have a Medicare SHIP coordinator webinar to attend this morning.

    What do you mean the network adapter isn’t connected? I haven’t had issues when traveling before and I certainly haven’t touched the “controls.”

    OK, I give up. My dear Mom will give up her computer and I’ll just plug in to the Internet.

    Phishing for Medicare

    With health care coverage and Medi-scare issues blaring from headlines and airwaves more and more each day, scammers and con artists have found another angle with which to catch you off guard.  

    Their technique of choice is “phishing.” The approach may be via the Internet, your e-mail or telephone, but the goal is to lure you into revealing personal information — your bank, credit card or Social Security account numbers, for instance. The bait may be exciting, like a great price on an expensive item, or alarming, as in “your account has been jeopardized, contact us immediately!”

    In recent months law enforcement and consumer groups report an increase in Medicare-related phishing scams. For example, scammers are:

    • Posing as Medicare workers with a new “lifetime coverage” plan for low income seniors.

    • Offering free diabetes testing equipment, back braces or other health aids.

    • Claiming to represent a company that supplies medical discount cards for people who don’t qualify for Medicare.

    If you bite, the scammer looks to reel you in, to land enough personal information with which to raid your savings, open a credit card in your name, bilk the Medicare system, or steal your identity outright.  As with any phishing scam, remember to protect your personal information at all times, and only provide that information to someone you know and trust.

    And remember, Medicare does not call offering you new plans, services etc. When in doubt you can also call the local SHIP office at 264-2167.

    What you don’t know 

    When you hear “senior center,” do you picture older people (much older than you, of course) sitting around playing bingo?

    If so, it’s time to update your vision; today’s senior center is not what it used to be.

    September is a great time to get to know your local center: it’s National Senior Center Month, sponsored by our National Institute of Senior Centers (NISC).

    Help us help others

    Due to budgetary restructuring, I am in need of a program coordinator (volunteer). Can you help answer phones that ring off the hook, create spreadsheets, enter data, come up with presentation ideas and schedule them? You must be able to work at a fast pace and be an awesome multi-tasker with a revolving door at your side.

    Your reward for your assistance is the fulfillment of the many needs of our seniors. A free lunch is a bonus, too!

    I am looking for a writer to help out with the weekly article. One idea for a writer would be to interview our Senior of the Week. Perhaps you or others have ideas.

    Like to greet people and lend a hand? We have the perfect opportunity for you. We are looking for a few people who would like to greet our folks, introduce new clients to our services, show them the ropes in the dining room and offer assistance to those needing help filling out our new client form.

    Please call me at 264-2167 for an application.

    Flu shots

    Roll up those sleeves and get ready for your annual flu shot. San Juan Basin Health Department staff will be in our lounge Monday, Oct. 1, from 10:30 a.m. to noon. All you need is your Medicare card — it’s 100-percent covered. High dose is also available. Feel free to stick around and join us for lunch; we’re serving pork chops. If you do, remember to make a reservation at 264-2167. For more information on the flu shot, call the Health Department at 264-2409.


    Get out in the community and let us do the driving.

    Get to where you need to go; door-to-door bus service is available Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Friday, and on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month for seniors age 60-plus. Suggested donation is $2 per day. Come hang out with us and enjoy our company. Call for details, 264-2167.

    Special delivery

    Are you struggling to get meals prepared because you are homebound, recovering from surgery or an illness?

    Let us do the cooking.

    Enjoy Cafe Fox meals, delivered to your door.

    Our hot meal, home-delivery program is available four days per week to those living closer to town, with frozen meals for Thursdays and weekends. If you live farther out of town, you may be eligible for the frozen meal program. Meals are available to people age 60-plus for a suggested donation of $4 per meal. Give us a call at 264-2167 for further information. Donations are greatly appreciated. 

    Weekly activities 

    Friday, Sept. 21 — 9 a.m. Geezers; 10 a.m. Stitchin’ in the Kitchen; 10:30 a.m. Book Club; 12:30 p.m. Gym Walk.

    Monday, Sept. 24 —12:30 p.m. Gym walk; 1 p.m. Canasta.

    Tuesday, Sept. 25 — 12:30 p.m. Gym Walk; 1 p.m. Meditation for Healing.

    Wednesday, Sept. 26 — 11 a.m. Blood pressure checkup (thank you Patty Tillerson).

    Thursday, Sept. 27 — Closed, administrative day.

    Friday, Sept. 28 — 9 a.m. Geezers; 10 a.m. Stitchin’ in the Kitchen; 12:30 p.m. Gym Walk.

    Cafe Fox menu

    All meals include our great salad bar.

    Friday, Sept. 21 — Lemon chicken, oven browned potatoes, broccoli, split pea soup, chocolate pudding.

    Monday, Sept. 24 — Chili con carne, sliced yellow squash, fresh apple, cornbread, whole wheat crackers.

    Tuesday, Sept. 25 — Spinach lasagna, Italian vegetables, salad, Italian bread, strawberry fluff with sliced bananas.

    Wednesday, Sept. 26 — Porcupine meatballs, mashed potatoes, peas and carrots, tossed salad, whole wheat bread, almond peaches.

    Thursday, Sept. 27 — Grilled ham and Swiss on whole wheat bread, homemade tomato soup, crackers, salad, banana slices with orange juice.

    Friday, Sept. 28 — Roast beef with gravy, baby carrots, dilled red potato salad, fruit salad, coconut and chocolate cream pies.

    Reservations required by 9 a.m. the morning of the day you would like to dine at Cafe Fox.

    Suggested donation for older adults age 60-plus is $4, guests $6, kids 12 and under $4. Our meal program is partially funded through the Older Americans Act via the San Juan Basin Area Agency on Aging, United Way, Archuleta County, Town of Pagosa Springs and other donations and grants. These funds help support the cost of the meal which is approximately $10.50. Please note our menu is subject to change. The salad bar opens at 11:30 a.m. with lunch served from noon to 12:30 p.m. 264-2167 for reservations.