Dutchess County Office for the Aging’s AGING NEWS For the week of October 23

Dutchess County Office for the Aging’s


For the week of October 23


Here are some headlines from just this month:

“Lab owner who defrauded Medicare to forfeit $187 million, Ferrari”

“Florida nurse practitioner convicted in $200 million Medicare scam”

“Rockland [County] man pleads in $127M health care fraud scheme”

Let’s walk a mile in the shoes of a would-be criminal trying to defraud Medicare, Medicaid, or a private insurance company. Ask yourselves this: What kind of fraud is most successful?

Answer: The kind that doesn’t show up in headlines because it went undetected and can thus be repeated. So how do they get away with it?

Scammers who don’t get caught are careful when it comes to their crimes. What these scammers are after is not so much your money, but rather your personal information: name, date of birth, Medicare ID and so forth. They use your information to target Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurers, disguising themselves as health care and medical equipment providers so that they can file their fake claims.

One key trick for this kind of scammers is that they don’t go for the big score all at once; instead, they make their fraudulent claims look like the billions of other legitimate claims that are processed every year. Since it’s impossible for workers to individually verify that many claims, Medicare and insurers rely on algorithms to verify claims. Criminals bill the fraudulent claims so that the algorithms won’t see anything amiss, and the fake claims are paid. The savviest criminals stay a step ahead of authorities, moving on to new scams before the algorithms ever detect a problem.

And they don’t buy attention-grabbing Ferraris, like the fraudster at the top of this article.


If you get an uninvited “cold call” from somebody claiming to be from Medicare or Social Security, ignore it, even if they appear to know a lot about you. It’s a scam attempt. Medicare does not ask you for personal, private information, nor do they need you to “verify” it. Calls requesting your health insurance information should not be trusted.

Never give your Medicare ID to anyone except your doctor, or people you already know should have it, like insurers acting on your behalf or Office for the Aging health insurance counselors whom you’ve already contacted.

Do NOT accept offers of money or gifts in exchange for medical care.

Never join a Medicare health or drug plan over the phone unless you called Medicare.

If a caller is claiming to represent Medicare or your health insurance company, verify that they’re who they claim to be by hanging up, then calling back using a phone number on the relevant account statement, or on an official government website.

If someone threatens to cancel your health benefits if you don’t share your personal details, hang up on them and report the scam attempt at 1-800-MEDICARE (633-4227) or visit medicare.gov. You can also find a printable Scam Prevention Resources flyer at this OFA link, which provides more contact information on where to report scams.

Golden Living is prepared by the Dutchess County Office for the Aging, 114 Delafield St., Poughkeepsie, New York 12601, telephone 845-486-2555, email: ofa@dutchessny.gov website: www.dutchessny.gov/aging


Last week’s OFA Senior Prom was a great success for over 400 guests. For a look at the pictures, visit this link from Dutchess County Government on Facebook.

Congratulations to our 2023 Duke and Duchess of the Prom, Giovanni Abruscato and Janet Whiteley, both from Hopewell Junction. Many thanks to the Bob Martinson Band for providing the dance music, and to our prom co-host The Pines at Poughkeepsie.

We know a lot of Dutchess County older adults plan all year for the following year’s prom, so save the date: Monday, October 21st, 2024.

Information about the prom venue and how to reserve seats will be available in July 2024.

The theme for 2024’s prom is “Hooray for Hollywood!” If you have an inspiring idea about a movie or movie character that’ll look good on you, go for it!


The Office for the Aging is already working on a 2024 calendar that’s going to be even busier than it’s been in 2023. No time for winter hibernating here!

Between now and early December, we still have spaces left for free Medicare counseling before Open Enrollment ends on December 7th. For our Home Delivered Meals clients, we’re planning for winter, especially those days when the weather prevents our HDM drivers from getting to your home safely.

With help from Dutchess County Parks, we’re planning another “Pancakes in the Park” event for next March and adding another series of OFA Introduction to Pickleball lessons next spring. You’ll also see the 2024 OFA Summer Picnic schedule in the spring.


The Dutchess County Office for the Aging contracts with a local private attorney to provide legal advice to Dutchess County residents age 60 and over – and as of this week, the waiting list for such services is shorter than usual.

The program is intended for Dutchess County seniors who would otherwise be unable to afford legal assistance. Because the funding for this program is limited, the primary focus is generally on immediate threats to income, shelter, patient’s rights, and health matters. Preparation of simple wills is also available. Clients may make an appointment by calling the Office for the Aging at 845-486-2555 during business hours.

There is no fee for this service; however, contributions are accepted.


Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cardholders, including those with SNAP benefits cards, are being warned to take extra precautions when using their cards, due to a rash of scams targeting the cards. Victims have been losing their entire monthly card balances to thieves, in some cases.

One key vulnerability of EBT cards is that they lack the “chip” security technology that’s used on credit and debit cards; as a result, it’s easier for bad actors to “skim” benefits using a device attached to a store’s card reader.

Skimmers most commonly show up on point-of-sale (POS) terminals, ATMs, and fuel pumps. Thieves often target small businesses that sometimes have only one person on duty, who can’t always keep an eye on the card readers. It’s easy for a team of two criminals to install a skimmer, even at point of purchase: one distracts the clerk, while the other installs the skimmer.

It’s possible for EBT benefits to be stolen via fraudulent but official-looking emails and text messages aimed at tricking users into disclosing EBT information.

If your EBT benefits have been stolen…

It’s possible to replace certain stolen benefits. Here’s what to do:

Immediately contact the EBT Customer Service Helpline at 888-328-6399, visiting www.connectebt.com, or through the ConnectEBT mobile app. After you have reported your EBT card stolen and requested a replacement card, you can apply for replacement benefits. If you already received a replacement card since your benefits were stolen, you do not need to replace your card again.

Click here for more information.

State and federal authorities are working on solutions to EBT card vulnerability. There are currently no states that use chip technology on EBT cards.

While chip technology adds a key obstacle for would-be scammers, it’s not a “silver bullet.” Security experts note that criminals are increasingly using “shimmers,” which are skimmers that can be inserted into card readers and can capture information from the chips on credit and debit cards.

In the meantime, EBT and SNAP card users can take precautions, as recommended by the FBI and USDA:

Check every card machine before you use it. Don’t use any card reader if you notice anything unusual. Skimmers can be difficult to notice, but sometimes it’s possible to see telltale signs that something’s not right with the card reader:

    • Look for anything loose, crooked, damaged, or scratched.
    • Some skimmers block LED indicator lights or illuminated keypads.
    • Pull at the edges of the keypad before entering your PIN. Then, cover the keypad with a hand when you enter the PIN, to prevent pinhole cameras above the reader from seeing your PIN.

Keep your PIN secret; don’t share it with anyone outside your household. Log into your EBT account regularly to check for unauthorized activity.

Dutchess County residents should report stolen benefits to their local law enforcement agencies. It’ll help investigators if you know where and when you used your EBT card.

EBT fraud affects all of us. According to a LexisNexis study, every $1 of benefits lost through fraud ultimately costs SNAP agencies $3.72 in additional costs for detection, investigation and more. Those costs are borne by taxpayers.

For those of us who use credit and debit cards, security experts recommend using contactless payment methods when possible.



The Hudson Valley CA$H coalition (www.hv-cash.org) is preparing to train volunteers to help prepare taxes for local low-income taxpayers, enabling them to receive the refunds and credits they’re entitled to, as well as to save hundreds of dollars on tax preparation fees.

Volunteer preparers include retirees, professionals, and students, who receive 40 hours of instruction that’s needed to pass the required IRS certification to assist filers. Volunteers who are bilingual and/or fluent in languages other than English are particularly appreciated.

If your volunteering strengths run more to administrative and support roles, there are volunteering opportunities in that field as well.

Hudson Valley CA$H is a coalition of partners representing libraries, human service agencies, local government, business, faith-based organizations, and volunteers, operating in Dutchess, Putnam, and Orange counties.

For more information, call Linda Eddy at 845-475-7500 or email leddy@dutchesscap.org.


Dutchess County Department of Emergency Response, Dutchess County Office for the Aging and the Town of Fishkill invite Dutchess County residents over age 60 (and their caregivers) to participate in

Citizens Preparedness Training

Wednesday, October 25th, 2023

10:00 am – Doors Open

10:30 am – Program Begins

Fishkill Town Recreation Center

793 NY 52, Fishkill

Acquire the tools and resources to better prepare for any type of disaster, learn how to respond accordingly in a disaster, and recover as quickly as possible to pre-disaster conditions. Each older-adult household will receive a free Citizens Preparedness Corps Response Starter Kit.

Event is FREE and open to the public. Space is limited – please register in advance by calling the Office for the Aging: 845-486-2555

Other news:

How to cut through the Medicare Open Enrollment ad blitz. One hint: call OFA during business hours at 845-486-2555 for an appointment with a non-sales-oriented OFA health insurance (HIICAP) counselor. Available local appointments are filling up fast!

Eat less and live longer?

Advice from a 101-year-old who’s still working (part time).

What is it about fries that makes us crave them?

The Rite-Aid pharmacy chain filed for bankruptcy this week.

Mahjong can keep families connected.

Sir Michael Caine is retiring from acting, at age 90. His last movie “The Great Escaper” premiered in the UK earlier this month. No word yet on a US release date.

This week’s birthdays:

10/21: Guitarist/songwriter Steve Cropper (82)

10/22: Actress/singer Catherine Deneuve (80)

10/23: Golf legend Chi-Chi Rodriguez (88)

10/24: Musician/songwriter Bill Wyman (87)

10/25: Actress Marion Ross (95)

10/26: Bass player William (Bootsy) Collins (72)

10/27: Actor/comedian John Cleese (84)

And here’s a Bad Joke!

I’m reading a scary story in Braille. Something terrible is about to happen. I can feel it.

Author: Harlem Valley News