Common Medicare Scams and How to Protect Yourself
It’s important to know what to watch for during open enrollment, when the nation’s 55 million Medicare recipients have the opportunity to change their Medicare Advantage and Part D plans. In addition to the challenge of going through the many plan options, experts say Medicare open enrollment is prime time for scam artists. Here are a few tips to protect yourself.
- Guard your Medicare number, which is typically your Social Security number. Protect it as you would your bank and credit card information.
- Remember Medicare will NEVER call or email you requesting personal information or product offers. If you receive a call or email from someone claiming to be with Medicare that should be an immediate tip-off that you’re are dealing with a con artist.
- If an insurance agent visits your home to sell or endorse any Medicare product, they are acting illegally.
The Five Most Common Medicare Scams
- Switching plans is a must. No! Experts suggest that checking out your options each year is the best way to make sure you have the best plan for you. You are allowed to stay with your current plan and opt to make no changes.
- Medicare is changing cards. No! If you are approached by someone who says you need to update your information to receive your new card, you are dealing with a scam. Remember, Medicare will NEVER call or email you requesting personal information.
- For you, a special price. No! Con artists like to use time-sensitive sale pitches to scam seniors into acting quickly and not thinking about the deal. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. To shop or enroll in legitimate Medicare plans use the plan finder at www.medicare.gov or call 800-MEDICARE.
- Health fair scams. No! Another ploy scammers use is to offer a free gift. All you need to do is sign up with your name and Medicare number. Remember, NEVER give out your Medicare number.
- Phony organizations. No! Be alert when you receive calls from people that say they are from your doctor’s office or local health agencies. In some instances, scammers will illegally gain access to your medical information. Then, they call you with just enough details to ease your mind that they are authentic and cause you to reveal even more details, which then leads to fraud.
To report Medicare scams call 1-800 Medicare or the Office of the Inspector General at 1 800 HHS TIPS (1 800 447 8477).
For free and objective Medicare assistance in Tennessee call SHIP (TN State Health Insurance Assitance Program) at 1-877-801-0044
Sources: US News and World Report