Medicare Scams: How to Avoid Them

There are all different types of scams out there targeting various groups of people. One scam that specifically singles out seniors deals with Medicare. For scammers, Medicare is an easy topic because mostly everyone over 65 has it, meaning they already have a list to target. Medicare beneficiaries also have more health care visits, meaning calls dealing with bills from healthcare providers are more likely to be believable.

There are a few different types of scams that involve Medicare.

What is Medicare Identity Theft?

Medicare identity theft occurs when scammers pose as Medicare, usually over the phone, in order to get personal and financial information from beneficiaries. They get this information  and use it to commit identity theft and/or steal money from the beneficiaries bank account. Be aware that a legitimate Medicare employee would not ask for this over phone or email as they already should have it on file.

Scammers can also call claiming you are entitled to money back because of changes to Medicare and/or lawsuits or actions by government agencies. They will attempt to get your Medicare number as well as your bank account information, saying you will be getting the money by direct deposit.  If you are ever entitled to a refund, it will be directly mailed to you, without any need for you to provide financial information.

Be careful with caller ID, scammers have a way to manipulate this as well as what phone number pops up, making them seem more legitimate. They often will have personal information about you, which they either stole or bought. The safest way to deal with this is to hang up and call the number of the agency they are claiming to work for to make sure it is a legitimate call. For Medicare, the number is 800-633-4227.

What is Medicare Fraud?

Medicare fraud happens when Medicare is billed for services or supplies that were never received. One version of this a healthcare provider billing for unprovided services in order to receive extra payments from Medicare. Some signs of this to be aware of include providers offering gifts as incentives to use their services, claiming Medicare endorses their products or services, and providers telling you that the more services you receive, the less you pay out-of-pocket.

Medicare fraud also includes scammers using your Medicare number to bill for fake service and taking the money received from Medicare. While this situation does not immediately affect you, it hurts Medicare overall, and should be watched for. If you believe you have been affected by Medicare Fraud, you can contact the Medicare fraud tip line at 1-800-HHS-TIPS and emailHHSTips@oig.hhs.gov.  

New Medicare Cards 2018

New Medicare cards are going to being to be sent from April 2018- April 2019 depending on the state you live in. New cards are being issued in order to make them more secure, hence the social security number being removed. You do not have to pay for this card or request this card, it is coming to you automatically. There have been scams reported where people are being called or emailed that they need to pay for this card, this is not true! There has also been calls reported where Medicare beneficiaries are being offered an update on when their card is arriving if they give some personal information. Medicare will not do this – do not give personal information to these people. If you want more info about the new Medicare cards, you can read about that here.

Medicare officials will only talk to beneficiaries by phone or email if they are contacted first. When in doubt about anything, it is always safe to just call Medicare. You can contact them at Medicare.gov or 1-800-MEDICARE.

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