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AARP Fights to Lower Prescription Drug Prices

Bob Edwards talks about the new campaign and previews the upcoming season of 'The Perfect Scam'

Pills with money inside of them

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Bob Edwards: Hello, I'm Bob Edwards with an AARP Take On Today.

This week, AARP kicked off Stop RX Greed, a nationwide campaign aimed at lowering prescription drug prices for all Americans by advocating for a variety of solutions at both the federal and state level. A new AARP survey of older voters shows significant majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents have the same concerns about the high price of drugs. The campaign will call on Congress and the Administration to take action now.

At the kickoff, Nancy LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice-President, had this to say.

Nancy LeaMond: The vast majority of Americans believe that drug prices are a big problem and they want action to fix it. Our new survey today confirms this. 72% of Americans age 50 and older are very or somewhat concerned. The time is right to take action.

Bob Edwards: Many Americans struggle to afford skyrocketing drug prices. Larry Zarzecki, a retired Maryland law enforcement officer, is one of them. Even with insurance, Larry pays $3200 a month to help manage his Parkinson's Disease. Here's Larry in his own words.

Larry Zarzecki: My name's Larry Zarzecki, and I'm a retired law enforcement officer. I was diagnosed with Parkinson's approximately 10 years ago. I had no alternative than to retire. It was devastating. My medication allows me to function as close to a well-functioning human being. The cost of prescriptions is so out of control, people every day are making choices. "Do I want to pay my gas and electric or do I want to pay for one of my medications?" Prescription drugs do not work if you cannot afford them. Let's join together. Reach out to your Congressman, reach out to your U.S. Senators. Call on Congress to Stop RX Greed and pass tough legislations to cut drug prices. Not tomorrow, not the day after, please help me accomplish this now.

Bob Edwards: To learn about the policies AARP supports and how you can get involved, visit, and be sure to call your state and local representatives about lowering drug prices.

Data theft is big business. According to Javelin Strategy, a digital finance consulting firm, 16.7 million people were victims of identity theft in 2017, amounting to $16.8 million stolen. There is, however, good news on the horizon as more and more people are becoming privy to the ways identity thieves will try to steal your data and your money.

Here to help us become more aware of online scams and how to protect ourselves is Frank Abagnale. You may recognize him as the subject of Steven Spielberg's 2001 hit movie Catch Me If You Can. He was known by law enforcement to be a genius imposer, a con man, and a check forger. Frank later served his country by using his talents to help others and become one of the world's leading fraud experts, educating the masses on how to fight crime and how to spot scams.

Frank now works as an AARP Fraud Watch Network Ambassador and co-host of The Perfect Scam Podcast, which premieres its third season on Friday, March 15th. To listen, visit, or subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, and other podcast apps.

Frank, do you have any recommendations for staying safe on social media? Or is that possible?

Frank Abagnale: Here's the thing. I tell people that if you're on Facebook, there's three things you don't want to do. You don't want a straight photograph of yourself. That would be a photograph on a driver's license, a graduation photo, because today with facial recognition technology, I can find you on Facebook by searching off of a picture of you. I can also use your picture and put it on false identification. I always tell people, you're going to put a photo of you on Facebook, have it be a photo of you with your dog, you with your friends, your arms around them, you and your family, but not a straight, close up photograph of yourself.

Never, ever tell anyone on Facebook where you were born and your date of birth. Otherwise, you might as well say, "Come steal my identity", because most identity thieves say to me, "All I really care about is I want to know where they were born and what's their date of birth. If they told me that, I don't really care about the rest of the information." I tell people, "Never put that information on Facebook page."

Bob Edwards: Can they use your picture?

Frank Abagnale: They could use someone else's picture and say they're me. I get that all the time. I don't know how many times I'm on Facebook and it's not me, but people using my name.

Bob Edwards: No, it's Leo. What about the workplace? Do you find corporate employees ever put their companies at risk?

Frank Abagnale: Yes. If you look at every breach – this goes all the way back to T.J. Maxx some 14 years ago. Every breach up to today, every breach occurred because somebody in that company did something they weren't supposed to do or somebody in that company failed to do something they were supposed to do. Hackers don't cause breaches, people do. Hackers just wait for doors to open and there are so many thousands of doors every day that hackers just take advantage of it.

In the case of Equifax, they didn't update their system. They didn't fix their security patches that Microsoft was sending them. They did a horrible job, so the hacker got into the system. When we look at every breach, it always comes down in the end that someone did something they weren't supposed to do or somebody failed to do something they were supposed to do.

This is why I tell companies it's so important to tell your employees that the number one most important job they have is keeping the information that has been entrusted to them by their clients, their customers, their citizens safe. That's their number one job.

Bob Edwards: When is it appropriate to talk to your loved ones about privacy on the internet?

Frank Abagnale: I think it's very appropriate to start that at an early age if a child is starting to use the internet, even for school work, to understand that the things that are on the internet and how the internet can be dangerous. I think children are very naïve as is a lot of adults. They're not aware of the things that can happen or what information they give away that someone can misuse to cause them harm or steal money from them. The more education you can give someone, the safer they're gonna be on the internet.

I don't even think we do a good job of that in school. We teach kids how to look up problems and do math and do that, but no one is teaching kids kind of like the old days when you didn't teach a kid how to write a check or handle money, and then they got out of college, they didn't even know how to write a check. We don't teach 'em the things they need to know every day, and that's the same way today when it comes to the internet.

Bob Edwards: You've spoken and written about how vulnerable passwords are to our information security. Are there alternatives?

Frank Abagnale: Yeah, we are moving now in the next few years especially into no passwords. Passwords are for treehouses. It's amazing to me that passwords were invented in 1964. I was 16 years old when they invented passwords, and now I'm 70 and we're still using passwords. It's just absurd, so I think we are moving to the day now where we're eliminating the need for passwords and going to a much more secure way of identifying ourselves through our devices and our telephones so that they know who is on the other end of that device.

What I like about that technology, I think for my grandchildren, and my oldest one is 16, there will come a time when they go buy a car and they walk in and there is no application. They just simply say, "I'd like to buy a car and I'd like to finance it." The dealer says, "Well, I'll run it through a number of institutions and see which one gives you the best interest", and then all I do is press an app on my phone and that's all I need to do. I don't need to tell the dealer where I live, what my name is, what date of birth I was born, where do I work, how much money do I make. All of that will be kept private and I think that will all come with these no-password technologies that are coming out today.

Bob Edwards: Thing is, I can always remember a password. A PIN number eludes me as soon as I come up with it.

Frank Abagnale: Yeah, so how most of these technologies work that – the no-password technologies, and they will always give you the option, so I can go to Delta Airlines' website and they may say to me, "Do you want to sign in with a password or do you want to sign in with no password?" That'll give me that option, but how they basically work is there's an app on your phone. I press that app and the bank identifies that that's me on the other end of that device because I had to open that app with – that phone with my thumbprint or my four-digit security code.

Once I've opened it – there's a commercial on TV now where you see Serena Williams jogging through a market and she sees a necklace she likes, but she's in jogging clothes. She has no wallet, so she goes over to an ATM, I think it's a Chase commercial, and she presses the app on her phone and she gets her money, but she has no PIN number and she has no card. I think that kind of technology is what you're gonna see catch on very quickly in the next couple of years.

Bob Edwards: What's she do with the change?

Frank Abagnale: I don't think she ... It's just the cash. Put it in her pocket and went and bought the necklace.

Bob Edwards: Frank Abagnale, AARP Fraud Watch Network Ambassador. For more resources and tips to protect yourself from scams, visit You can also call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 1-877-908-3360.

For more, visit Become a subscriber and be sure to rate our podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, and other podcast apps. Thanks for listening. I'm Bob Edwards.

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Bob Edwards discusses a new, nationwide AARP campaign to lower drug costs. And Frank Abagnale, cohost of AARP's The Perfect Scam podcast, discusses how to protect yourself from online scams.

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