Scammers Never Stop Unless You Stop Them
Of all of the many scams perpetrated on Colorado’s senior citizens, Medicare scams may be the most insidious. Preying on the vulnerable is what fraudsters and criminals do, and those who rely on Medicare for their health and well-being can be easy marks for such villains.
That is, in part, because Medicare is complicated. Scammers can easily lie to confused seniors about what they need to do to keep their coverage or make other misrepresentations. Medicare scams have one goal in mind: to get Medicare enrollees to give up personal and financial information.
Each year, thousands of Colorado Springs seniors fall victim to Medicare scams. And while these criminals will always try to come up with new ways to separate older Americans from their hard-earned money, there are some common Medicare scams that continue to be used time and again, because they work.
In-Person Visits From a “Medicare” Representative
If someone knocks on your door claiming to be from “Medicare” and you haven’t recently scheduled any Medicare-approved home services, don’t let them in. Medicare will NEVER send any representatives to your home, period.
These scammers may try to sell you medical products or services that are “covered by Medicare.” Of course, they may also need your Medicare or Social Security number or credit card information to complete your “valuable” purchase. NEVER give out such information.
Any Medicare-approved service providers, such as those who provide nursing care, physical therapy, or annual wellness visits as part of a Medicare Advantage plan, will schedule their visits in advance and will never ask you for personal financial information.
“Medicare” Phone Scams
Just as Medicare representatives will not visit you at home, neither will they call you unsolicited. If the Social Security Administration requires more information to process your Medicare application, you will first receive an official letter via U.S. Mail to schedule a phone call. Outside of this circumstance, the only calls you can expect to receive from Medicare are those that you request yourself.
Although a formal, pre-arranged call from Medicare may require you to share some identifying information (though such calls are rare), the representative will never ask you for your credit card number or banking information.
Professional Medicare scammers will often try to extract financial and personal information from senior citizens over the phone through several different approaches, such as:
- Asking you to confirm that you received your Medicare card or telling you that you need to “activate” or “renew” your Medicare card
- Claiming that Medicare owes you a refund
- Offering free services, tests, or medical equipment
- Suggesting that you sign up for a new Medicare plan or update your current plan
- Threatening to cancel your Medicare coverage unless you update your information
- Asking you to “verify your information”
- Offering Medicare prescription cards
COVID-Related Medicare Scams
For scammers, the COVID-19 pandemic offers a golden opportunity to prey on people’s fears and uncertainty. As volunteers go door-to-door to inform communities across the country about COVID-19 vaccines, many fraudsters may try to impersonate such well-intentioned individuals. They may say that they need personal, financial, or medical information as part of their efforts. Don’t fall for it.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, scammers also offer COVID-19 tests, HHS grants, and Medicare prescription cards in exchange for personal details, including Medicare information. However, these services are illegitimate and unapproved.
How To Protect Yourself From Medicare Scams
The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has several reminders for Medicare enrollees that can minimize your chances of falling prey to a Medicare Scam. These include:
- Medicare will never contact you and ask for your Medicare number, Social Security number, or other personal or financial information unless you’ve given them permission in advance.
- You may get calls from scammers promising you equipment or services if you give them a Medicare Number or other information. Don’t do it.
- Medicare will never visit you at home.
- Medicare will never call you and try to sell you anything.
- Medicare can’t and won’t enroll you over the phone unless you called first.
If you believe that you were approached by a scammer or fell victim to a Medicare scam, report it to Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or the Office of the Inspector General at 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477).
Preferred Insurance: Trusted and Experienced Medicare Insurance Brokers
Medicare is complicated, and the information you need to review and understand to make the right coverage choices can be overwhelming. That is where the experienced, independent Colorado Springs Medicare insurance brokers at Preferred Insurance can help. From selection to enrollment to education and more, we can provide you with the knowledge and guidance that will allow you to make the best coverage decisions.
If you are a Colorado resident who is 65 or over, please contact Preferred Insurance to schedule a free consultation to discuss your Medicare needs.