A five part Senior Protection Summit series will make its way to Duncan for the first time ever in an attempt to educate and protect senior citizens, their caregivers and their families.

The program begins in Duncan at 8:30 a.m. April 4 at the Simmons Center. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. and breakfast will be provided.

Topics covered during the conference include insurance fraud, Medicare fraud, investment fraud, banking fraud and current senior scams.

Oklahoma Insurance Department Commissioner Glen Mulready said this summit goes the distance when it comes to protecting the older population.

“Fraudsters tend to target the senior population, and many times these scams work,” Mulready said. “The information seniors will get from these five organizations will be some of the most useful and helpful tools they can learn to fight fraud.”

Ray Walker, director of the Medicare Assistance Program with the Oklahoma Insurance Department, said the Summit program in Duncan will include five speakers from five different organizations, each of whom will cover a different type of fraud, how to avoid it and how to recover if individuals have already fallen victim to senior fraud.

Walker will focus on Medicare fraud during his presentation.

“Every year, there’s $60 billion in fraud from the Medicare Trust fund,” Walker said. “For example, a beneficiary to a Medicare plan may receive a Medicare Summary Notice which covers the previous three months for that beneficiary. Seniors have to play an active part in looking at that to protect themselves.”

Most often times, Walker says Medicare fraud stems from equipment for medical issues the person either didn’t need or never received despite their need. Walker said it’s also common for seniors to receive boxes and boxes of medical equipment like what a person would buy on a Walgreen’s shelf, but instead are billed for “custom fitted” equipment that was never customized for the beneficiary at all.

“In depth, my discussion will also include the epidemic of commercials on TV for back braces or other equipment,” Walker said. “These commercials are selling off the shelf Orthodics and people are ordering these instead of speaking with their physician. For example, if it shows you order a back brace, they bill medicare, but what happens when you actually need one and you didn’t receive it?”

A person may see their doctor about the medical equipment and have one custom fitted, but if Medicare has already been billed for one, they won’t allow it again.

Medicare fraud can also create issues with a beneficiary’s medical file.

“It can create quite a problem and not only that, it seriously messes up medical records and can impact future treatment of that patient,” Walker said. “Once it’s on your record, its very hard to clean up what that info might entail or where it is stored.”

Other speakers will include the Attorney General’s Office, which will focus on robo calls over the phone and how to appropriately respond.

“Protecting vulnerable Oklahomans is one of the most important priorities we have as public officials,” said Attorney General Mike Hunter. “These conferences will provide critical information to senior citizens in the state to keep them aware of fraud and teach them how to avoid becoming a victim of a scam. I appreciate the partnership between Commissioner Mulready and the Insurance Department, as well as all of the other public entities who are stepping up to host these events across the state.”

Additionally, Walker said Elaine Dodd with the Oklahoma Bankers Association, who serves as the vice president of fraud prevention, will also discuss how to protect bank accounts, savings accounts and senior’s credit.

Walker said: “This is a great opportunity for seniors, caregivers and family members. It’ll teach them how to avoid fraud, and how to fix the damage if its already happened. Most often times people hear about fraud and they get scared. Our goal is for attendees to not leave scared, but leave empowered instead.”

Seniors can attend at no cost, and the event includes a continental breakfast. RSVP is required. Register online at map.oid.ok.gov or by calling 800-763-2828. Insurance professionals can also attend a conference for four hours of Continuing Education (CE) credit. The cost for CE credit is $31.

The conferences are partially funded by the Administration on Community Living’s Senior Medicare Patrol grant. To learn more, go to map.oid.ok.gov.