Medicare is available for seniors over 65. Scammers know this and have built scams based on Medicare aimed solely at this elderly market. During periods of open enrollment, usually in October and November, seniors do the most thinking about Medicare. This is when con artists are typically the most active.
IdentityTheft Medicare scams:
In these type scams, the scammer wants to get your name, address, social security number, and, if possible, your detailed bank information. So they call and tell you one of the following lies related to Medicare.
- You are told that because of Obamacare you need a new Medicare card. Then they say that in order to send you your card they need your name, address, and social security number.
- You are told that in order to keep getting Medicare benefits you need to provide personal information. They may even ask for your bank’s name and sometimes may even ask for detailed bank information.
- You are told that you must join a new Medicare prescription plan or lose your coverage. The con artist’s real objective is to steal your personal information, money, or both.
- The con artist on the line will claim to be a Medicare representative who is offering “free” items such as a back brace or diabetic testing supplies in exchange for personal and financial information.
- The person on the line tries to get you to join a Medicare plan from a company that doesn’t exist, the real objective being to get your personal information, money, or both.
A caller may sometimes claim to be from a state or local health agency, a doctor’s office or hospital, or an official-sounding but phony organization such as the National Medical Office. Some crooks even try to trick you by manipulating the number you see on your caller ID screen. If you have any doubts, hang up, look up the organization online, and, if you’re interested, call them back.
These type scams are aimed at ripping off Medicare, which eventually means all of us who pay for it.
Medical equipment fraud: A swindler will call and say he or she represents a manufacturer of medical equipment and wants to offer the senior “free” products or equipment. Then the scammer will fake the signature of a doctor certifying that the patient needs the equipment or testing so that Medicare will pay for it. Medicare is charged for those products which may not have been needed or may not have even been delivered.
Phony testing schemes: A senior is given unnecessary and even sometimes fake tests at retirement homes, health clubs, etc., and it is billed to Medicare.
Keep in mind that using another person’s Medicare number or card is also considered fraud.
Ways to avoid Medicare scams:
- Never give out any personal information over the telephone, internet, or to anyone who comes to your door uninvited. Only give personal information to doctors and other providers approved by Medicare. To check if a provider is approved by Medicare, you can call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
- Be wary of anyone offering you free products or equipment in exchange for your personal information or Medicare number. Remember that your doctor needs to sign for it before Medicare will pay for it.
- Review your medical bills and Medicare summary notices for service and medical equipment charges that you did not receive. Ask if you have any questions. To review your Medicare statements, you can look at the ones you receive, visit www.MyMedicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) and use the automated phone system.
- Ask your medical providers beforehand how much you’ll be charged and how much you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket.
- Never sign blank Medicare forms.
- Keep accurate records of all medical appointments.
- Know what medications, medical supplies, and medical equipment has been ordered for you.
- Make sure a company is legitimate before signing a contract with them.
What you can do if you’ve been scammed:
- If you suspect you’ve been a victim of identity theft, you should call the Federal Trade Commission’s ID Theft Hotline at 1-877-438-4338.
- If you lose your Medicare card, if it’s been stolen, or if you need a new one, visit www.socialsecurity.gov, or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213.
- If someone calls to tell you about a Medicare plan, ask for the name of his or her company. If you have any doubts about the validity of the company, call Medicare (1-800-633-4227) to see if the company is approved by Medicare.
- Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) if you:
- Think you were enrolled in a Medicare plan without your consent.
- Think a Medicare plan may be breaking the rules.
- Think you were misled by a Medicare plan or an insurance agent representing a Medicare plan.
- Want to report any other suspicious activity regarding your Medicare plan.
If you suspect fraud regarding your Medicare prescription drug plan or a Medicare Advantage plan, call 1-877-7SAFERX (1-877-772-3379).