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Scams, they're always aroundPosted Friday, January 28, 2011, at 8:25 AM
This warning came to us from Kevin Secor, VSO Liaison, Office of the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. "An organization called Veterans Affairs Services (VAS) is providing benefit and general information on VA and gathering personal information on veterans. This organization is not affiliated with the VA in anyway." Michael Daugherty, Staff Attorney for the Dept. of Veterans Affairs adds, "VAS may be gaining access to military personnel through their close resemblance to the VA name and seal..." There appears to be no affiliation or endorsement by VA to provide any services, so be very careful in providing anyone with your personal information. Check credentials and affiliations very carefully.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) is alerting the public to the latest scheme to defraud the government and steal money from the American people. This scheme involves contact (by phone, email or letter) from someone pretending to be from a government agency, such as the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). Although the precise message may vary, the caller or writer provides his or her name and a fake employee ID, and then typically tells you that you will receive "government grant money" as an incentive for paying taxes on time. The caller will then ask for personal or financial information, such as a Social Security number or bank account number. The caller may also ask you to send a check or wire transfer to cover a "processing fee."
If you receive such a call, hang up immediately! If you receive such an email or letter in the mail, do not respond! Call 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477; TTY 1-800-377-4950) or email the HHS fraud hotline at HHSTips@oig.hhs.gov.
Remember: do not respond to these criminal schemes. Alert others about this scheme, and remind teenagers and children living in your household not to provide strangers with family or personal information.
Medicare Part B Information:
Part B is Medicare's outpatient insurance. You must pay a premium to have Part B. The standard premium went up to $115.40 beginning Jan. 1, 2011 but this increase did not affect most people. Most people will pay the same premium they paid in 2010.
There will actually be three Part B premium amounts in 2011. Which one you pay depends on when you started getting Part B, and your income. This happens because federal law says your Social Security check cannot decrease as a result of your Part B premium going up.
Since your Social Security benefits won't increase for 2011 and did not for 2010 that means your Part B cannot go up if you get the premium automatically deducted from your Social Security check. So, if you've had your Part B premium deducted from your Social Security check since December 2009 or earlier, you'll pay $96.40 per month in 2011. If you started getting your Part B premium deducted from your Social Security check in 2010, you'll pay $110.50 in 2011. If you sign up for Part B in 2011 or do not have your premiums withheld from your social security check you'll pay $115.40 per month.
Now, for you folks that have income as an individual of $85,000 or more annually or $170,000 or more as a couple your premium will increase in 2011.
Also remember, if your income as an individual is $14,868 or less or as a couple $19,920 with assets at no more than $6,600 for an individual or $9,910 for a couple you may be eligible for a Medicare Savings Program that can pay your Part B premium for you.
For more information contact me at 1-800-392-8771 or locally at 335-3331.
Ruth Dockins is the Public Information Director for the Southeast Missouri Area Agency on Aging and author of 'Age Spots,' a column/blog which is featured in several Southeast Missouri newspapers and is devoted to seniors and senior lifestyles.
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