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Don’t Be a Victim: Watch for These Medicare Scams

Targeting unsuspecting Medicare beneficiaries has become big business for scammers. Once a scammer gets a hold of a Medicare number, they will bill Medicare for services and equipment that was never provided, or bill for supplies sent to the beneficiary that were neither needed nor wanted. Don’t let yourself fall prey to one of these fraudulent Medicare schemes:

“Christian” Medical Equipment Suppliers

Be wary of individuals selling durable medical equipment (DME) who advertise or speak at your church.  The scammers may claim to be Christians who are just trying to help their fellow congregants by offering DME such as diabetic supplies, walkers, power mobility devices, CPAP devices, and nebulizers at low or no cost to the senior.  These companies may be trying to get your Medicare number, so they can send you supplies that you don’t want or need.

Telemarketing Scams

Telemarketing scams involve people cold-calling consumers and tricking them into handing over their Medicare numbers. Scammers purchase targeted mailing lists such as, lists of people over 65 with diabetes.  The scammers then cold-call the consumers and confuse the beneficiaries into believing they are speaking to a government employee and get them to “confirm” their Medicare number.  Medicare will never call and ask you for your Medicare number.

Milk/Grocery Scams

In this fraudulent scheme, scammers target seniors at adult living facilities, senior communities, or other locations.  The scammers tell seniors that their company is providing free groceries or other products in return for the senior completing a survey.  The scammer will ask the beneficiary to complete a form that asks for their Medicare number. Oftentimes, the scammer will also ask for the names of other Medicare beneficiaries that they will then target.

Free Medical Evaluations

This scheme is often implemented at shopping malls, community health fairs, and other locations with a lot of foot traffic.  Mobile testing centers offer health screening, such as blood pressure testing or glucose screening.  If a mobile testing center asks for your Medicare number, don’t provide it.

Unexpected Home Health Visits

Home health services must be ordered by a physician and are only for Medicare beneficiaries who are unable to leave their home without tremendous difficulty.  If you receive an unexpected visit from a home health provider, do not let them in.  It is illegal for a home health agency to charge Medicare for any services that have not been ordered by a physician.  A legitimate home health agency will not pay surprise visits or show up without first having a physician’s order.

Conclusion

Before handing over your Medicare number to any company or individual that solicits you, call the Senior Medicare Patrol in your area and they will help you make sure it is a legitimate company or program. A full list of the Senior Medicare Patrol offices is available here.

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