It seems like every time you turn around, there’s some new story about scam artists stealing credit card numbers, banking information, Social Security numbers, and more. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem about to end any time soon. And, with Medicare being such a confusing program with yearly changes, its beneficiaries are a prime target for crooks. However, you can protect yourself if you know what to expect and what to do when one of these Medicare scammers targets you.
Although the latest Medicare scams take advantage of the new Medicare cards, criminals have always targeted the same basic information.
The main difference now is that, in addition to the above three, criminals may also attempt to steal your Medicare number. Previously, of course, this number was the same as your Social Security Number.
These callers are often extremely aggressive. They may call repeatedly or at odd times of the day or night. Often, the language they use is designed to frighten you into action. The best way to deal with them is to hang up immediately. Then, you can call Medicare, Social Security, or the Federal Trade Commission to report this scam attempt.
The most common Medicare scams include:
A caller may claim to be a Medicare representative. This person says that you need to pay a fee to replace your current Medicare card, usually around $25.
The scammer claims that your insurance company owes you a refund. Before they can pay it, you need to verify your Social Security Number and bank account information.
The caller may ask if you’d like to purchase a new Part D plan or say that if you don’t purchase one, you’ll lose your Medicare coverage. They may also offer to sell you a Medicare Advantage or Medigap plan.
The criminal may call you claiming that you need to verify your Social Security, bank, or credit card information before they can send your new Medicare card. They may also ask you to verify your address.
The caller claims there’s a problem with your new Medicare card and may ask for personal information to “replace” it.
One scam involves demanding you send them your old Medicare card before you can receive the new one.
The caller may tell you that you’ve won free healthcare products or services, asking for your Medicare number first. This usually occurs over the phone, but some scammers have been known to go door to door.
Each of these scenarios is a scam. The caller only wants to obtain your valuable personal information.
As they say, knowledge is power. One of the best ways to protect yourself against criminals looking to steal your information is to know what Medicare will and won’t do, and how to protect your information.
These cards are automatically being sent to every beneficiary. The process began on April 2, 2018, and Medicare expects it to take a full year to be complete. New beneficiaries got the first cards. If you want to know when to expect yours, just check your MyMedicare.gov account. Don’t have one? That same link allows you to create one.
Medicare rarely calls beneficiaries, and never calls to ask for your banking, credit card, or Social Security information. Anyone who calls you claiming to be from Medicare and asking for this information is a criminal. If you’re worried that there is legitimately an issue that needs your attention, hang up the phone. Then, call 1-800-MEDICARE (633-4227). That way, you know for sure you’re speaking to a Medicare representative. He or she can give you the assistance you need.
Whether it’s the new card or your old one, protect it. If someone calls you and asks for your card number, hang up and call 1-800-MEDICARE. When you get your new card, shred the old one, making sure to destroy the number.
If someone calls and offers you a Part D, Medicare Advantage, Medigap, or any other health plan, hang up and check the Plan Finder page to see if the plan exists.
If the service or product is free, they shouldn’t need your Medicare information, should they?
The new cards are going to whatever address Medicare has on file. If you aren’t sure yours is correct, contact Social Security at 800-772-1213. You can also update – or create – your Social Security account online.
One of the things these criminals use your information for is billing Medicare for fake services. Review your statement carefully and report any entries you believe may be fraudulent.
If you become the target of one of these criminals, you can help protect yourself and others by reporting the incident to Medicare and/or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You can also tell Senior Medicare Patrol about it. They protect beneficiaries in every state and can even help you get a new Medicare number if necessary.
Chris Gasparini has been a licensed insurance agent since 2005. He enjoys helping Medicare beneficiaries navigate their options to find the best solution for their unique needs. Chris feels as though his work truly helps people. Because he represents multiple insurance companies and plan types, Chris is able to help Medicare beneficiaries find the best, most cost-effective plan. Every day, he leaves work knowing he did what was right for each and every client he serves.
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Last Updated 12/21/2018