If you’re reading this, you’re probably a senior or have a senior in your life. Did you know that every year, millions of seniors fall prey to scammers and crooks pretending to call from Medicare?
Here are some tips to help you or your loved one avoid these unscrupulous characters:
Medicare does not call beneficiaries
This is the number one piece of information that will help many seniors spot a scam. Medicare, like virtually all government offices, never makes unsolicited phone calls. To make this crystal clear: Unless you called Medicare and are expecting a call back, Medicare will not call you. They send letters if they want to tell you something.
Some scammers will call you, pretending to be from Medicare, and say you have a debt you must pay. Alternatively, they may claim Medicare owes you money and they need your bank account information for a direct deposit. Now, with Medicare replacing all beneficiaries’ insurance cards beginning this April, you may get a call from someone stating you need to pay for the new card. This is false; the card will be mailed to your house and it’s 100% free.
If there really is an outstanding debt, Medicare will mail you a letter about it. Do not let anyone intimidate you into paying your debt right now or they’ll come arrest you. If you get such a phone call, hang up and call 1-800-Medicare (1-800-633-4227) to check.
Don’t give personal information over the phone unless you made the phone call
If someone calls you claiming to be from your doctor’s office or hospital and requests your banking or insurance information, do not give it unless you personally know the person you’re speaking to. Sometimes these crooks can obtain your health information through illegal means, and sound very convincing. Remember, you have the right to hang up and call your doctor’s office on their regular number and check with the receptionist that the call is legit.
Protect your Medicare card
Medicare advises you to treat your card as a credit card. Don’t leave it lying around, and only give the number to your doctor.
Be aware of Medicare fraud
Some real but unscrupulous companies will bill Medicare under your insurance ID for services you didn’t receive. Never sign for anything you’re not sure is 100% accurate. You have the right to ask your provider exactly what they will bill Medicare and how much your coinsurance is expected to be.
You should also review your or your parents’ explanation of benefits statements regularly. This is the document your insurance company sends you, itemizing the medical services they paid for. Call the insurance company right away if you notice any discrepancies.
If you have an elderly family member living alone, remind them about the possibility of scams. Follow the link below to download a handy print-out you can paste next to your loved one’s phone to help them remember about scams.
Click here: Free Printout for Phone