Loading...

Follow The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
or

Valid

Callers claiming to be from Medicare are asking people for their Medicare numbers, Social Security numbers, and other personal information in exchange for DNA test kits. The callers may say the test is a free way to get early diagnoses for diseases such as cancer, or why not take advantage of the free test. But, don’t be fooled. Medicare doesn’t give DNA testing kits to the public.

It’s another government imposter scam, said Lisa Lake, consumer education specialist for the Federal Trade Commission.

Before you give anyone your personal information, consider these tips to help avoid scams:

  • Government agencies will rarely, if ever, call you. If they do, it will be after they send you a letter – or to return a call you made to them. But anytime a “government” caller demands information or payment by wire transfer or gift card, it’s a scam.
  • Don’t trust caller ID. Scammers use technology to hide their real number, but show one that seems legitimate. So if the caller ID shows a 202 area code, or says “government” or “Washington, D.C.,” don’t believe it. It could be anyone calling from anywhere.
  • Never give anyone who calls or approaches you unexpectedly information such as your Medicare, bank account, credit card, or Social Security number. Scammers can use your information, steal your identity, get credit in your name, and take your money.

Report government imposters and other scams to the FTC. Also, find out more about how to stop unwanted calls.

Copyright 2019, Rita R. Robison, Consumer and Personal Finance Journalist
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Photo: JJBers

CVS-Aetna lawyers, consumer advocates, and health care organizations gathered Thursday in Washington, D.C., for oral arguments on whether the Department of Justice’s proposed final judgment in the CVS-Aetna merger is in the public interest. 

U.S. Public Interest Research Group, which filed a friend of the court brief with Consumer Action, called CVS’ claim that the merger would reduce prescription drug prices “absurd.”

“CVS is claiming the merger will simultaneously boost profits to investors and help save consumers money,” said Adam Garber, consumer watchdog for U.S. PIRG. “But without an impartial party holding the combined company accountable, it is more likely than not that instead prices will go up, to the detriment of patients.

The real impacts of the merger’s so-called “benefits” can already be seen in places such as Ohio, Garber said.

“In that state, CVS Caremark increased the price of specialty drugs by 1700 percent, despite the price dropping on average nationally,” he said. “The combined CVS-Aetna behemoth could deliver the same painful results to millions more Americans.”

A merger that empties Americans’ wallets and endangers Americans’ health isn’t in the public interest, Garber said, adding “We hope that Judge Leon agrees and rejects the proposed settlement.”

Last year, the U.S. Justice Department approved a $69 billion merger in which health insurer Aetna and CVS, owner of drug stores and pharmacy benefits manager or PBM services, would consolidate their operations into a merger.

Consumer and patient advocacy groups, including Consumer Action and U.S. PIRG, opposed the merger. They said problems arise when companies, such as CVS, become a “one-stop healthcare shop” – the prescriber, insurer, and pharmacist – able to raise prices unchecked and make decisions about which medications will be prescribed and filled, regardless of doctors’ wishes and patients’ needs, said Consumer Action.

The judge hearing the case has said that CVS would gain so many new healthcare clients through its merger with Aetna that it would have an unfair advantage with drug manufacturers, who would favor CVS pharmacy benefit managers over those operating on behalf of smaller pharmacies. PBMs work as middlemen in the prescription drug supply chain. They negotiate the price consumers will pay for each medication with drug manufacturers. However, they’re compensated more for creating higher list prices. They also determine what drugs patients are permitted to purchase and how many times patients can fill the prescriptions.

In addition, patients’ primary care physicians also are at risk of getting squeezed out of the marketplace, as CVS will be able to steer patients covered by Aetna to its own rapidly expanding MinuteClinics/HealthHUBs, according to Consumer Action.

Little evidence exists that past vertical acquisitions by CVS have resulted in benefits to consumers, and substantial evidence that they’ve resulted in harm. In 2007, CVS acquired the pharmacy benefits manager Caremark Rx, and used its new power to exclude competition, reduce patients’ access to vital medications and care from their pharmacists of choice, and drive up drug prices, said Consumer Action.

The judge, who has indicated in court that he was skeptical that the deal will help patients, set the July 17 hearing.

Copyright 2019, Rita R. Robison, Consumer and Personal Finance Journalist
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a final rule Wednesday stating that it will no longer prohibit nursing homes from forcing a resident into arbitration if they have a dispute with the nursing home. As a result, nursing homes can enforce agreements in which residents sign away their right to access the court system if they’re injured or harmed.

“This shameful move by the Trump administration puts the interests of nursing home corporations before residents – the people who need our protection the most,” said Remington A. Gregg, counsel for civil justice and consumer rights for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division

Nursing home residents are among our most vulnerable citizens, Gregg said, adding forcing them into secret arbitration process will allow systemic problems in nursing homes to go unaddressed and remain hidden.

“Reversing commonsense safeguards that would hold the multibillion-dollar nursing home industry accountable for providing quality care and protecting residents’ access to justice is unconscionable,” he said. “Instead of protecting vulnerable seniors, the Trump administration is giving nursing home corporations a Get Out of Jail Free card.”

Copyright 2019, Rita R. Robison, Consumer and Personal Finance Journalist
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 


Summer is in full gear and baby boomers are writing about topics ranging from retirement to tick bites.

Topics include:

  • The best places in the United States for boomers to retire.
  • How to remove ticks and prevent getting bitten.
  • The difficulty in operating small switches and buttons and reading the directions about them.
  • Why using cell phones and computer screens all day long interrupts our lives.
  • How to use hypnotherapy to reduce pain rather than pain medication. 
  • How a toddler sitting naked in a puddle reminded a boomer of an event that happened more than a century ago.

Meryl Baer of Six Decades and Counting reports on these articles in the Best of Boomer Blogs #605. Click here to get the links to the articles. And, be sure to give us your opinions on these topics. Boomer bloggers love to hear from readers.

Copyright 2019, Rita R. Robison, Consumer and Personal Finance Journalist
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Universal Security Instruments is recalling about 180,000 battery powered smoke and fire alarms.

The smoke alarms can have a misaligned internal switch causing the alarms to not activate properly, posing a risk of failure to alert consumers to a fire.

The company has received 134 reports of failure to properly activate during installation.

This recall involves Universal Security Instruments 10-year, battery-operated ionization smoke and fire alarms with model numbers MI3050S and MI3050SB and with date codes between 2015JAN19 through 2016JUL11. The smoke alarms are white in color and 5½ inches in diameter. “Universal” and “Smoke & Fire Alarm” are printed on the front cover of the alarm. The label on the back of the alarm lists the model number and date code. 

The smoke alarms were sold online through specialty wholesalers and others from July 2015 to December 2016 about $20

Consumers should immediately inspect their smoke alarm to determine if it will activate appropriately, the company and U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission advise. Press the test button to determine if it’s operating properly. If the alarm sounds, no further action is required.  Additional instructions are located on the firm’s website.  If smoke alarm doesn’t sound during the test, consumers should immediately contact Universal Security for a replacement.   

For more information, call Universal Security Instruments at 877-612-6955 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or online at www.UniversalSecurity.com and click on “Product Safety Notice.”

Copyright 2019, Rita R. Robison, Consumer and Personal Finance Journalist
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you find a tick attached to your skin, remove the tick as soon as possible. There are several tick removal devices on the market, but a plain set of fine-tipped tweezers work very well, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

How to remove a tick

  1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
  2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick. This can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you’re unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
  3. Clean the bite area and your hands thoroughly with rubbing alcohol or soap and water after removing the tick.
  4. Never crush a tick with your fingers. Dispose of a live tick by putting it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet.

If you develop a rash or fever within several weeks of removing a tick, see your doctor. Be sure to tell the doctor about your recent tick bite, when the bite occurred, and where you most likely acquired the tick, the CDC advises.

Avoid folklore remedies such as “painting” the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible – not waiting for it to detach.

Tick exposure can occur year-round, but ticks are most active during warmer months, April through September. Check this map to find out which ticks are most common in your area.

Before you go outdoors

  • Know where to expect ticks. Ticks live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas, or even on animals. Spending time outside walking your dog, camping, gardening, or hunting could bring you in close contact with ticks. Many people get ticks in their own yard or neighborhood.
  • Treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5 percent permethrin. Permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing, and camping gear and remain protective through several washings. As an alternative, you can buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellents: External containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus or OLE, para-menthane-diol or PMD, or 2-undecanone. EPA’s search tool External can help you find the product that best suits your needs. Always follow product instructions.
    • Don’t use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old.
    • Don’t use products containing OLE or PMD on children under 3 years old.
  • Avoid contact with ticks
    • Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
    • Walk in the center of trails.


After you come indoors

Check your clothing for ticks. Ticks may be carried into the house on clothing. Any ticks that are found should be removed. Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors. If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed. If the clothes require washing first, hot water is recommended. Cold and medium temperature water won’t kill ticks.

Examine gear and pets. Ticks can get into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and daypacks.

Shower soon after being outdoors. Showering within two hours of coming indoors has been shown to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease and may be effective in reducing the risk of other tickborne diseases. Showering may help wash off unattached ticks and it’s a good opportunity to do a tick check.

Check your body for ticks after being outdoors. Conduct a full body check after you return from potentially tick-infested areas, including your own backyard. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body. Check these parts of your body and your child’s body for ticks:

  • Under the arms.
  • In and around the ears.
  • Inside belly button.
  • Back of the knees.
  • In and around the hair.
  • Between the legs.
  • Around the waist.
Copyright 2019, Rita R. Robison, Consumer and Personal Finance Journalist
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

With thousands of vehicles in a Monday storm, which released a month’s worth of rain in an hour, flood damaged vehicles in the Washington, D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area could run in the hundreds.

“While, hopefully, these vehicles will have their titles marked flood damaged and go to salvage yards, many will likely re-enter the market as used cars,” said Jack Gillis, the Consumer Federation of America’s executive director and author of “The Car Book.”

Because of the computerization, electronics, and sophisticated safety technology found in today’s vehicles, it’s critical that you avoid getting stuck with one of these lemons, Gillis said.

“Looks can be deceiving – with a nice clean up, these water infested vehicles, may actually look pretty good – which means knowing how to identify a flooded vehicle is critical,” he said. “When it comes to buying a car, three out of four of us buy used.”

By following these tips, consumers can protect themselves from purchasing a vehicle that can put themselves and their families at risk:

  1. Check the VIN, vehicle identification number, which is located on the driver’s side of the dashboard, visible through the windshield, by going to the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System established by the U.S. Department of Justice. You’ll have to pay a small fee for the information, but it’s the most comprehensive data base. You can also check with the National Insurance Crime Bureau or CarFax, both currently offering free flood history information. Even if the database has no flood information, beware, as fraudsters have ways of getting around VIN registration information or it may not have been reported.
  2. Use your nose. Beware if the vehicle smells musty or damp or if you smell some kind of air freshener. Close up the windows and run the air conditioner and check for a moldy smell.
  3. Look for dirt, mud, and water stains. Check the carpets, seat upholstery, and cloth lining inside the roof. If you see any dirt or mud stains, beware. Feel under the dashboard for dirt or moisture and look in the glove box, ashtray, and other compartments for moisture or stains. If you see a straight stain line either on the inside of the door panel, engine compartment, or trunk – watch out. That’s probably how high the water went in the vehicle. Tip: If the carpeting, seat coverings, or headliner seem too new for the vehicle, that’s a sign that they may have been replaced due to flood damage. 
  4. Listen for crunch. Pull the seats forward and back and try all of the safety belts. If you’re looking at an SUV with folding seats, try folding them all. Listen for the “crunchy” sound of sand or dirt in the mechanisms or less than smooth operation. 
  5. Check the spare tire or inflator area. Look for mud, sand, or stains on the spare tire or jack equipment or in the well under the spare tire. Check under the trunk carpet for a rigid board and look to see if it’s stained or has water damage.
  6. Power up. Be sure to try all the power options including windows, locks, seats, moon roof, automatic doors, wipers, window washers, lights, and air conditioning system. If any don’t work, sound funny, or operate erratically, beware. And don’t forget the sound system. Try out the radio, CD player, and Bluetooth connectivity. Adjust the speakers front and back and side to side to listen for any crackling or speaker failure. 
  7. Check for rust or corrosion. Look around the doors, in the wheel wells, under the seats, under the hood and trunk, and inside the engine compartment. 
  8. Look under the hood. Look at the air filter. It’s often easy to check and will show signs of water damage. Check the oil and transmission fluid. If they look milky or have beads of water, watch out. 
  9. Take a test drive and listen for unusual engine or transmission sounds and note any erratic shifting and acceleration. Set the cruise control to see if it’s working properly. 
  10. Check out the head and tail lights. Look closely to see if there is any water or fogging inside. Do the same with the dashboard. Are any of the gauges foggy or containing moisture droplets?

Follow these steps and you’ll be able to save yourself a lot of trouble that a water-damaged vehicle will cause.

Copyright 2019, Rita R. Robison, Consumer and Personal Finance Journalist
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or CFPB announced the settlement of a lawsuit Tuesday it had brought against Freedom Debt Relief, the nation’s largest debt settlement company. The company agreed to pay $20 million in restitution to affected consumers and a $5 million civil penalty. The original suit was filed in November 2017 and an amended complaint filed in June 2018.

“I applaud the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau for taking action against Freedom Debt Relief,” said Andrew Pizor, attorney for the National Consumer Law Center. “It is especially important that the settlement included restitution for aggrieved consumers. Debt settlement and similar programs offered by companies like Freedom often do more harm than good and turn out to be a waste of money.”

Pizor said consumers should talk to their creditors directly and do their own debt settlement negotiations, or they should talk to a qualified consumer bankruptcy attorney.

The CFPB’s lawsuit alleged that Freedom Debt Relief violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule by charging advance fees and failing to inform consumers of their rights to funds they deposited with the company. The CFPB also alleged that Freedom Debt Relief violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 by charging consumers without settling their debts as promised, charging consumers after having them negotiate their own settlements with creditors, and misleading consumers about the company’s fees and its ability to negotiate directly with all of a consumer’s creditors. 

The settlement requires that Freedom Debt Relief stop engaging in this unlawful conduct in the future. The company has also agreed to a consent order with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp or FDIC. The CFPB will cancel $493,500 of the $5 million civil penalty it assessed because the company was ordered to pay the FDIC that amount.

The settlement needs to be approved by the court.

Copyright 2019, Rita R. Robison, Consumer and Personal Finance Journalist
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

At White House event Monday, President Donald Trump touted his administration’s environmental record while at the same time repealing the Clean Power Plan, which had put the first national limits on carbon pollution from power plants.

Trump’s touting of his administration’s pristine environmental record is nothing short of nonsense, said Allison Fisher, outreach director for Public Citizen’s Energy Program.

“Trump has the worst environmental record of any president in history, which is hardly a surprise for an administration that has installed a coal lobbyist as head of the Environmental Protection Agency and an oil and gas lobbyist to run the Department of Interior,” said Fisher. “Trump’s repeal of the commonsense Clean Power Plan and Clean Car standards are proof of that.”

This repeal will hurt all air-breathing Americans, cost consumers $100 billion, and drive our world deeper into the climate catastrophe, but that means nothing to the corporate lobbyists Trump has put at the head of this administration, she said.

“These lobbyists have rolled back other vital environmental regulations and climate change measures set by the Obama administration designed to protect public health, all to benefit their former employers and clients,” Fisher said. “They have consistently placed corporate interests above the interests of the American public.”

With the climate crisis posing an urgent threat to the United States and the world, American citizens are fed up with their needs being drowned out by corporate influence in our political system, she said.
Fisher said the nation needs an administration that’s going to be vigilant in protecting the environment and puts the American people before polluter profits.

“Despite Trump’s claims, his administration’s record shows little regard for the environment and complete submission to corporate interest over the past two and a half years,” she said.

Copyright 2019, Rita R. Robison, Consumer and Personal Finance Journalist
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 


Last week was the Fourth of July, and so it shouldn't surprise anyone that boomers had their minds on vacations. But, then, finding joy was among their writings, too.

Topics include:

  • Saving money on meals during a vacation.
  • Dealing with summer safety issues, including fireworks.
  • Buying a new car.
  • Surviving the Southern California earthquakes.
  • Finding that magical place that sustains, restores, and comforts us.
  • Taking a vacation from constantly comparing our life to other people's ... because no matter what their Facebook page says, they’re facing challenges as well.
  • Seeing that true contentment is really a deep-seated sense and appreciation self. 

This is the Best of Boomer Blogs #604 as reported by Tom Sightings of Sightings Over Sixty. Click here to get the links to the articles. As you peruse them, be sure to let the boomer bloggers know your opinions. We enjoy hearing from our readers.

Copyright 2019, Rita R. Robison, Consumer and Personal Finance Journalist

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
close
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview