Every day, scam artists are inventing new ways to steal personal data and commit fraud. To make matters worse, these scammers routinely target the elderly. Senior citizens who may not be as familiar or comfortable with online or electronic systems are the most vulnerable when it comes to identity theft. Unsurprisingly, there has been an increase in the number of Medicare related scams. AMPM Billing seeks to highlight some of these scams and what to look out for to avoid becoming a victim.
An article by Forbes warns about the prevalence of Medicare phone scams. The most important thing to note is that Medicare absolutely will not call you. If you receive a call from a representative claiming to be from Medicare, chances are they will be extremely persistent and aggressive. This is an attempt to frighten and wear down their target, and with particularly vulnerable populations, it works. However, even if the person on the other end of the line is friendly, this is still no reason to believe that Medicare is actually calling you. Medicare will never do this.
Medicare ID Scams
Recently Medicare began the transition away from the old Medicare ID, which consisted of the patient’s social security number. This is in an attempt to reduce cases of identity theft using patients’ Medicare cards. However, scammers have been using this transition period to their advantage.
A common scam will involve a person calling who claims to be from Medicare. They will advise you that they need to verify your new ID, or claim that a mistake has been made with the new ID. They will ask you for your new ID and then tell you that it does not match what they have on file. At this point they will ask you for your old Medicare ID, which contains your social security number. They may also claim that the date of birth they have on file for the new ID does not match, and prompt you to give them your date of birth. At this point you will have given them all the information they need to submit false claims to Medicare and steal your identity.
Forbes notes, “According to AARP, Medicare fraud losses hit $60 billion in 2017 and continue to rise. And Medicare scammers seem to come out of the woodwork around the annual Open Enrollment period.” During the enrollment period, scammers will attempt to sell fraudulent supplemental plans or prescription coverage. There are very few reasons to trust a Medicare supplement plan that calls unsolicited to sell coverage. Furthermore, Medicare has a full rundown of the supplemental policies on its governmental website. Always check and double check the validity of these companies before giving any of your information away. If you are unsure, consider consulting an insurance broker who is trained to help you make sense of your supplemental insurance options.
Don’t be Fooled!
The Federal Trade Commission and Medicare.gov outline some ways to avoid being the victim of a scam.
- Never give your social security number to someone who has called claiming to be a Medicare representative.
- Do not pay for a new card. Some scammers will offer a plastic version of the card for a “fee”, or tell you that you must purchase a replacement. Medicare cards are always free and there is no plastic alternative.
- If you have already given your bank details to someone you now believe to be a scammer, contact your bank immediately to alert them of the situation.
- Unless you have given permission in advance, do not give out personal information to anyone who contacts you by phone unsolicited.
- Even though the new Medicare number is not your social security number, try to keep it as secure as possible. Share it only with your healthcare providers and trusted community advocates.
- If you are contacted by someone who claims to be a Medicare representative asking for your information, hang up and call 1-800-MEDICARE immediately.
The best way to avoid scams is by being informed. Keep yourself and your loved ones up to date about Medicare changes and learn about current scams. When it comes to your personal information, always err on the side of caution!
Disclaimer: The materials contained on this website are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal or other professional advice on any subject matter. Advanced Medical Practice Management does not accept any responsibility for any loss which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site.