Tips for Spotting a Medicare Scam
Have you been preparing for Medicare’s open enrollment coming this fall? Then you need to be on alert for Medicare scammers who try to take advantage of trusting senior citizens.
How do Medicare scammers operate?
Medicare scammers call unsuspecting seniors to try to trick them into enrolling for nonexistent coverage. They attempt to sell something to which they do not have access. Not only do the Medicare scammers call people, but they also send emails as well. Anytime you get a phone call or email from someone claiming to be a Medicare representative, you can count on that person being a scammer.
What do Medicare scammers want from you?
The main objective of these Medicare scammers is to steal from seniors. They may try to steal money in any of the following ways:
- Pretend to enroll someone in the program
- Tell you to pay for a new ID card
- Accept a payment for a discount prescription card
However, the Medicare scammers don’t only steal money, they also try to steal identities. They say they are Medicare representatives or agents and need you to verify certain identifying information.
They may tell you they are getting ready to send out your new ID card and need you to verify the information on it. Or they may say you have qualified for some special refund, medical supplies, or other goodies and they need you to give them your private information, including your Medicare number, to receive it. The offers may seem so good that it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and be taken off guard. That’s what the scammers are hoping for.
What are the scammers’ tactics?
Scammers use many tactics or methods to trick their unsuspecting victims into agreeing to give them money or information. They may try to scare you into giving the information by saying that you are on the verge of losing coverage or will be denied coverage if you don’t give the information. Sometimes they use the opposite tactic and offer free goodies such as medical equipment, appointments, and so on.
How can you avoid Medicare scammers?
Remember that Medicare official workers do not call seniors to enroll them or ask them for identifying information. If someone calls saying that they are a Medicare representative, hang up. The best way to get information for Medicare and to enroll is to call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or visit Medicare.gov.
If you have already been a target of a Medicare scam, report it to the Medicare help line at 1-800-633-4227 or call the Office of Inspector General at 1-800-447-8477. You can remain anonymous when reporting a scam. However, for reports of fraud that lead to the recovery of Medicare funds, the person reporting it will receive $1,000 reward.
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This information is provided for general consumer educational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax or investment advice.