Kupuna Alert Partners
Our members were treated to several speakers in June, courtesy of Kupuna Alert Partners, a multi-agency partnership presentation covering Medicare Fraud Prevention, Securities Fraud Prevention and Prescription Drug Misuse.
Charlie Pang, Dept. of Public Safety, Narcotics Enforcement Division
He talked about the dangers of prescription drug abuse or misuse, such as someone taking medications not prescribed for them or combining different drugs to enhance the effect of another substance, such as alcohol.
Approximately 6.8 million Americans abuse prescription drugs, typically from friends or family members. Fortunately, there is a national takeback program, in which Hawaii participates. For information the Hawaii Medication Take Back Program, call (808) 837-8470. He noted that pharmacies, hospitals and clinics are not allowed to take back drugs, so contact the program to ensure safe disposal. As much as 3,200 lbs. have been collected and disposed of at H-Power Plant, which burns trash at high temperatures and ensures destruction. Disposing of drugs in the trash or toilet leads to drugs in the landfill or sewage systems, which do not break down and can affect reef fish.
To help protect against prescription drug abuse or misuse, document all medications you are taking and create five copies: (1) for your primary physician, (2) pharmacy, (3) family, (4) your wallet, (5) your refrigerator. Keep track of your medications, use one pharmacy to fill all prescriptions, secure your medications and if in doubt about any of your medications, ask your pharmacist.
Leolyn Sugue-Anderson, DCCA Securities Enforcement Branch
She covered the Top 5 scams in Hawaii, which were:
- Impostor fraud – e.g. impersonating someone from the IRS
- Fake prizes, sweepstakes, lotteries
- Telephone, mobile scams – e.g. claims that someone got into your account, requesting account information
- Banks and lenders – similar to above
- Debt collection – e.g. claiming your home is facing mortgage foreclosure
Scams on the rise include:
- Advance fees – requesting a fee to enable you to collect on returns from an investment or prize
- Romance scams – targeting divorced, widowers
- Grandparents – claiming a call from a “relative” who is stranded or hurt, requesting that they send money. Personal details may have been stolen or bought from other sources.
Protect against scams by not responding to calls from unfamiliar numbers, check financial statements for any unfamiliar transactions, and monitor your credit through free sites like www.annualcreditreport.com.
Laurie Paleka, Senior Medicare Patrol
Senior Medicare Patrols (SMPs) 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. SMPs are grant-funded projects of the federal U.S. Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Its basic message is
- PROTECT – guard Medicare and Social Security numbers, don’t let anyone borrow
- DETECT – review medical statements the same way as a credit card or bank statement
- REPORT – if you notice anything unusual, to SMP at (808) 586-7281 or (800) 296-9422
Valerie Mariano, Dept. of the Attorney General, Community and Crime Prevention Branch
Hawaii Revised Statutes 485A covers regulations pertaining to the registration of securities, broker-dealer, agents, investment adviser representatives. When evaluating investment opportunities, check if they are properly registered by calling 1-877-447-22667. To check on financial advisers, search their histories on https://brokercheck.finra.org.