Medicare scams are a growing problem, with criminals targeting seniors in an effort to steal their personal information or money. These scams can take many forms, from unsolicited phone calls and emails to fake medical equipment or services. In order to protect yourself from becoming a victim of Medicare fraud, it’s important to be aware of the most common scams and know what to look for.
One of the most common types of Medicare scams is the “phishing” scam. This is when scammers use unsolicited phone calls or emails to try to obtain personal information, such as your Medicare or Social Security number. These scammers may claim to be from Medicare or another government agency and may even have some of your personal information, so they may seem legitimate. However, it’s important to remember that Medicare and other government agencies will never ask for your personal information over the phone or through email. If you receive a call or email that seems suspicious, do not provide any personal information and instead report the Medicare scam to the Medicare Fraud Hotline at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
Another common scam is the “free medical equipment” scam. In this scam, scammers may offer free medical equipment or services, such as a free power wheelchair or mobility scooter. However, these offers are often too good to be true and are used to obtain personal information or money. Be sure to verify the legitimacy of any offer before providing personal information or making a payment.
The “Door-to-Door” scam is when scammers go door-to-door trying to sell prescription drug coverage, medical equipment, or other offers, or even asking to help with your Medicare enrollment. They may ask for personal information or money, but these offers are often fraudulent. If someone comes to your door offering their services, ask for identification and verify they are legitimate before providing any personal information.
Fraudulent billing scams can occur when scammers use your Medicare number to bill for services or equipment you did not receive or to file false claims. Some may even go as far as signing you up for services that are covered by Medicare but are never actually provided. Scammers may also exploit your Medicare number to file false claims, so it’s important to remain vigilant and review your statements frequently. To safeguard yourself from this type of scam, it’s crucial to regularly review your Medicare statements and report any suspicious activity to the Medicare Fraud Hotline.
Another common type of Medicare scam is the “mail scam”. In this scam, scammers may send fake Medicare or other government-related mail to seniors in order to obtain personal information or money. These fake mailings may look official and may even include official-looking seals or logos. However, it’s important to remember that Medicare and other government agencies will never ask for personal information or money through the mail.
In order to fend off this scam, it’s important to keep a detailed record of all healthcare services received, and to compare them with bills received. Keep hold of receipts and statements and take note of your quarterly Medicare Summary Notices to ensure that you are being charged for services you received. If you have any doubts, reach out to the billing department of the healthcare facility where the services were received or to your insurance provider for clarification on the charges.
Another scam that is becoming more prevalent is the “genetic testing scam”. In this scam, scammers may offer free or low-cost genetic testing to seniors, often claiming that the testing is covered by Medicare – when, in fact, Medicare does not pay for random genetic testing. These offers are often too good to be true and are used to obtain personal information or money. In some cases, scammers may also use the results of the genetic testing to file false claims or to steal your identity. If you’re considering genetic testing, it’s important to verify the legitimacy of the offer and to understand the potential risks involved.
One of the newer Medicare scams is known as the “telemedicine scam”. In this scam, scammers may offer telemedicine services, such as virtual consultations, over the phone or online. They may claim that these services are covered by Medicare, but they may not be. To avoid this scam, it’s important to be aware that not all telemedicine services are covered by Medicare and be cautious of unsolicited phone calls or emails offering these services. If you’re interested in telemedicine services, check with your doctor or Medicare first to verify that the services are covered and to find out if there are any approved providers in your area.
Scam Prevention and Reporting
The first step in prevention is staying mindful of the warning signs and validate all suspicious calls and offers. This is especially important during annual enrollment periods (AEPs), a prime time for scammers to attempt to scam older consumers into providing unnecessary enrollment information and purchasing inadequate policies. You should also make sure you only share your Medicare number and card with healthcare providers and insurance agents you trust.
It is always important to remain vigilant, trust your instincts and report suspicious activities to the Medicare Fraud Hotline at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or contact the Office of Medicare’s Inspector General at 1-800-HSS-TIPS. You may also file a report through the Federal Trade Commission’s website. Scammers are constantly coming up with new ways to trick seniors, so it’s important to stay informed about the latest scams and to take steps to protect yourself and your personal information.
Our Medicare advisors are happy to assist our clients who believe they have been scammed. You may contact us for more information and assistance here.