AARP has advised its members to be careful as they use Internet services. For example, have you ever participated in the following online activities:
- Clicked on a pop-up ad?
- Opened an email from someone you didn’t know?
- Signed up for a free trial offer?
- Sold some merchandise in an auction?
- Sent funds through an Internet money transfer service?
- Posted your home address, phone number, vacation plans, names of children or grandkids on social media?
If so, you are more likely to be duped by a scam. AARP Washington state director Doug Shadel directed an AARP Fraud Watch Network survey of almost 12,000 Internet users to discern the differences between online fraud victims and nonvictims. According to the survey results, age does not play a factor. What does matter is engaging in the online activities above. The results also showed that victims often recently experienced a stressful event (such as a job loss or illness) and scammers target emotionally vulnerable people because it is easier to force them into making bad choices. (AARP Bulletin, March 2014)
AARP reports that Dr. Farid Fata in Michigan has been accused of prescribing unnecessary chemotherapy treatments to his patients, including some who didn’t even have cancer. Dr. Fata’s nurse, Angela Swantek, noticed that medications were being administered improperly and patients were in the chair longer than necessary, which created more money for the doctor. Dr. Fata allegedly bilked Medicare for $91 million. Ms. Swantek was afraid of retaliation because Fata “oversees my license.”
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA) has a Whistleblower Protection Program that protects workers from adverse action by employers (such as firing or laying off, blacklisting, demotion, denial of benefits, intimidation, threats, and/or reduction of pay or hours) for exercising their rights under OSHA. An employee has the right to file an OSHA complaint, participate in an inspection, talk to an inspector, seek access to employer exposure and injury records and raise a safety or health complaint with the employer. If your employer does discriminate or retaliate against you, you have the right to file a retaliation complaint with OSHA.
No specific form is required to file a complaint but you can: (1) send a letter to OSHA (to find the contact information for your nearest OSHA office go to www.osha.gov/html/RAmap.html); (2) call the OSHA area office located nearest to you; (3) download and send a completed Notice of Whistleblower Complaint Form to your OSHA area office (www.whistleblowers.gov/whistleblower_complaint.pdf); or (4) file an online complaint (https://www.osha.gov/whistleblower/WBComplaint.html). However, your discrimination complaint must be filed with OSHA within 30 days of the alleged retaliation.