Better Business Bureau: Diabetes scam

By Alan Bligh
March 31, 2012 at midnight
Updated March 30, 2012 at 10:31 p.m.

A note to those who have diabetes and those who care for someone with diabetes. The Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General is warning diabetic consumers to beware of phone callers offering free medical supplies.

Scammers are using the promise of freebies to get personal information and defraud the government, which costs us taxpayers billions. The warning says the scheme typically involves a telemarketer pretending to be from the government or a diabetes association. The caller then offers free diabetic supplies such as glucose meters, test strips, lancets, heating pads, foot orthotics or joint braces in exchange for the consumer's Medicare number or other financial information.

While the caller claims the items are free, they are billed to Medicare. For consumers who receive such calls, the government advises never giving out Medicare or other personal financial information to callers. These scam calls can be reported to the Office of Inspector General hotline at 1-800-HHS-TIPS or online at

Be wary of friend request

Here is another example of how social media is providing a "field day" for con-artists and other sorted obnoxious people. MSN Money reports that debt collectors are now using Facebook and Twitter to find people who owe an alleged debt, and some are using unscrupulous methods to collect those debts.

One strategy is when the debt collector makes a fake profile to "friend" you, and then browses through your profile and personal information to contact you. Some may even post something on your Facebook wall or tweet something to your friends and family about your debt. This is certainly unethical and possibly illegal.

So remember if someone you don't know sends you a friend request, be wary. You never know who is on the other side of that friendly picture. And check your privacy settings so you can control who can see your profile and get your information.

How to find the right camp

It's that time again. Time to plan for that summer camp for the kids.

Over the past three years, the Better Business Bureau has received more than 350 complaints against various camps nationwide. Common disputes allege dissatisfaction with camp activities or staff, mistakes in the billing cycle and refund issues. We advise parents to begin their search early and look for a camp centered on their child's interests and age. In addition to checking to see a camp's business review or to find a accredited camp, BBB offers the following tips for parents searching for the right camp:

Get references. Ask parents of other campers about their child's experience and why they recommend one camp over another. Of note, there is no government oversight of camps, so it's especially important to look for facilities that are certified by the American Camp Association, which requires camps to meet up to 300 nationally recognized standards.

Visit the camp in person. Check all living, eating and recreational facilities. Be sure to ask about safety procedures and how rules are enforced.

Assess the quality and commitment of the staff. Find out the camp director's background, the criteria used for hiring staff and whether certification in CPR and First Aid is required.

Know the fees and payment policies. What is the total cost of tuition? Is your money refundable should the camp be canceled?

Ask about medical care and insurance. Check out the medical facilities to be sure they are adequate.•  Consider a backup plan. In case the camp you choose gets canceled for unexpected reasons, be sure to have another camp or two in mind.

Alan Bligh is the executive director of the Better Business Bureau in Corpus Christi. Contact him by email at



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