Popular Medicare Scams: How to Avoid Them?

During the open enrollment period, many Americans shop for the best Medicare plan. Scammers seize this opportunity to steal personal information. According to The Federal Trade Commission, scammers will often impersonate Medicare agents. Protect your personal information and be on the lookout for scammers trying to steal your money, Medicare number, or your identity.

Key takeaways:
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    Scammers want to steal your personal information. This can include your Medicare, Social Security, bank account, or credit card numbers.
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    Scammers might try to offer perks, or threaten to take away benefits to access your Medicare number.
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    Do not share any personal information– including your Medicare number– with anyone who contacts you by phone, social media, email, or in person.
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    If someone calls and asks for personal information, or money, or threatens to cancel your benefits, hang up and report it by calling 1-800-MEDICARE.

More than 64 million Americans are covered by Medicare. Every year, Medicare has an open enrollment period from October 15 through December 7. During that time, people who use Medicare can choose a plan that works best for them. It is common for people to compare options and change plans. Unfortunately, as many people look for the best Medicare coverage, scammers look to cash in.

If you use Medicare, it is important to know about possible Medicare scams and basic Medicare facts. Learning about helpful tips and possible red flags can help you avoid scams and protect yourself from suspicious activity.

In most Medicare scams, the goal of the scammer is to get Medicare numbers. With access to a Medicare number, the scammer can file claims at your expense.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, scammers impersonate Medicare agents. They may call, text, email, or message you on social media asking for personal information. They may ask for your Medicare, bank account, or credit card numbers.

A scammer may try to trick you into providing personal information by saying you need a new Medicare card. This is a scam. If you need a new card, Medicare will send it to you for free. You do not have to do anything.

A scammer may call and say they need your Medicare number for a claim or product. These impersonators are trying to steal your Medicare number to use.

In another version of this scam, a caller may try to get your Medicare and bank account numbers by saying you are entitled to a refund.

Know your Medicare facts

Learning crucial Medicare facts can help protect you from scammers. Here are some basic reminders about Medicare:

  • Medicare will never call, text, email, or message you on social media to sell you anything.
  • Medicare will never visit your home.
  • Medicare will never call, text, email, or message you on social media asking you to pay for a new Medicare card.

Medicare will never call uninvited and ask for personal or private information. There are only a few situations in which Medicare can call you.

Tips to spot and avoid Medicare scams and fraud

Protect your Medicare card. Your Medicare card contains personal and sensitive information. Treat this card and the personal information it contains like your Social Security card or credit card. Keep it in a safe place.

Protect your Medicare number. Your Medicare number is private and personal information. Do not give your Medicare number to someone you do not know.

Just hang up. If you get a phone call or message from someone saying they are affiliated with Medicare and they ask for a Social Security, Medicare, or bank account number – just hang up.

Beware of fake Medicare plans. Scammers may try to sell you a fake Medicare plan. They may try to offer benefits and services if you sign up with them. Verify any type of plan you are considering by using the plan finder at Medicare.gov. You can also call the plan provider directly.

Watch out for free perks or rewards. Scammers may offer free services, products, or additional perks in exchange for your Medicare number. This is a scam. If a service or product is free, no insurance number is needed.

Shut the door on door-to-door solicitors. Medicare will never send someone to your home to sell products or services. Shut the door on anyone trying to sell you a Medicare product or service. Insurance agents can only come to your home if you request it.

Always look at your Medicare statements. Private insurance and Medicare providers send a summary of claims. That statement will explain the health care you received. Review statements and verify the services and products.

Do not rush. Do not sign up for any plan on the spot. To make sure a plan or offer is legitimate, ask for materials and details in writing.

Watch out for red flags

When shopping for a Medicare plan over the phone or in person, keep an eye out for suspicious activity. Red flags could be a sign of potential fraud or that an agent is breaking the rules. Possible red flags include:

Perks to enroll early or time limits set to receive perks. During open enrollment, everyone eligible has until December 7 to enroll. Signing up for a plan early does not come with any benefits.

Gifts or perks are offered if you sign up for their plan.

Threats of taking away benefits if you do not sign up for their plan.

Any suggestion that Medicare endorses or prefers their plan.

Report any suspicious activity

Call your Medicare plan provider right away if you suspect any suspicious activity, fraud, or scam. Call Medicare immediately if you receive a call from someone who:

  • Asks for your personal information
  • Asks for money
  • Threatens to cancel your health benefits

Report fraud immediately by calling 1-800-MEDICARE. You can report a scam to the FTC as well.

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Comments

gail whitifled gail whitifled
prefix 22 days ago
This article is very informative and nicely presented.
The set up was user friendly and easy to follow.
I learned some important tips.
Thank you,
Gail Whitfield
Sylvia OBrien Sylvia OBrien
prefix 22 days ago
Thanks for the info