Identifying Medicare Scams
Research shows that seniors are common targets of scammers. One of the most common ways that criminals try to get information is through Medicare scam calls. In fact, your Medicare number is often more valuable for criminals than your social security number or credit card numbers/banking information.
The caregivers at Gentle Shepherd Home Care in Colorado Springs can help you identify these scams. We offer a variety of in-home senior care services from companionship to medical care.
In this article, we’ll explain what you need to know about common Medicare scams.
Does Medicare Ever Call Recipients?
There are only two reasons that Medicare will ever call you, according to the Medicare website:
- Health/drug plan provider may call if you are already a member or the agent who helped you join may contact you
- Customer service representative may contact you if you’ve left a message or received a letter stating that you will receive a phone call
Top 7 Medicare Scams
Fraudsters are getting smart with their scams. However, if someone calls you claiming to be from Medicare with the following pitches, it’s a scam.
Your old Medicare card is invalid- you will be getting a new card
This is one of the most common Medicare scams. The fraudster will inform you that in order to issue a new card, they will need your social security number and/or your Medicare card number.
Truth: Medicare will not call you if there is an issue with your card. They will send a letter to arrange a phone interview.
Your Medicare plan is about to be canceled
The caller will claim that in order to prevent your Medicare from being canceled, you will need to verify your current Medicare number, full name, address, banking information, birthdate, and social security number. This is also a common Social Security scam.
Truth: Medicare representatives have your Medicare number on file- they will never ask for it. Additionally, Medicare representatives never ask for details such as your social security number to verity your identity.
You are eligible for early access to vaccinations
The COVID-19 pandemic spawned many pandemic-related scams such as being sent at-home testing kits or special access to vaccinations. These “offers” require that you provide information such as your Medicare number, social security number, and other personal details. Most of these start out as text messages or robocalls. The caller will offer you special access if you pay out of pocket.
Truth: Medicare will never ask for you to pay out of pocket to get special treatment.
You must confirm your appointment for genetic testing
In some cases, scammers will call offering “free” genetic testing to screen for a variety of health conditions. When you agree, they will steal your information and will bill Medicare for the test. In some cases, you may be sent an “at-home” test to complete along with a request for your information.
Truth: Medicare will not call or send an at-home kit to offer you testing that you have not requested.
You are eligible for free medical supplies
If a scammer is aware of a specific health condition, such as diabetes, they may offer you “free” medical supplies or medications. They use this offer to get your Medicare number and other personal information as well as your credit card number so that you can pay for shipping. Your information will be used to over-bill Medicare.
Truth: Medicare is not likely to call you to offer free medical supplies/medications. They will never ask for you to pay for shipping or provide financial information. Never pay for anything without seeing an invoice that can be confirmed with Medicare.
You overpaid and are due a refund
One of the most common scams fraudsters use is to contact you via a phone call or text offering a “refund” on “overpayment”.
Truth: Medicare will not call you to verify your personal financial information before issuing a refund. If you are due for a refund, a paper check will be sent out or it will be sent to the bank account on file.
You’ve been pre-approved for a cheaper/better plan
Some scammers will try to convince you that you are eligible for a cheaper/better plan than you are currently on. These are most common during open enrollment.
Truth: Medicare will not call you without sending a letter first. You should never follow up on any unsolicited calls, visits from people claiming to be Medicare reps, or brochures.
What to Do if You Are Contacted
Scammers can be persuasive, aggressive, and even threatening. However, its important to stay calm- they won’t be able to do anything if you don’t give them your information.
Also, keep in mind that Medicare will not cold-call you. They will contact you via postal mail first to set up a phone interview.
If you or a loved one is contacted by a fraudster:
- Never give out personal information
- Hang up
- Report the scam to Medicare
- Warn loved ones
If you or a loved one is in need of in-home elderly care, contact Gentle Shepherd Home Care in Colorado Springs. We offer a variety of services from simple companionship to medical care.