Each year, Medicare beneficiaries can make changes to their Medicare health plans and prescription drug coverage between October 15 and December 7, during the Medicare Open Enrollment Period. Unfortunately for consumers, this period is also open season for Medicare scammers.
Here are some common ploys that Medicare scammers use to try and take advantage of seniors and ways to outsmart them:
- A person contacts you and says you will lose your Medicare coverage if you don’t join their prescription plan. False. Medicare coverage is not tied to the voluntary Medicare Part D prescription plan.
- A person contacts you and says you need to give him or her your Medicare number so they can verify or update your account. False. Medicare representatives will never contact you by phone or email and ask for your Medicare number. They already have it.
- A person contacts you and says you need to confirm your bank account information or make a payment over the phone or online. False. Medicare representatives will never ask you to make a payment by phone or online.
- Don’t trust caller ID. Just because the call appears to be coming from a government number, doesn’t mean it is legitimate. Scammers can easily manipulate caller ID to display whatever they want.
- “Free” can be costly. An offer for “free” medical supplies or “free” health screenings may be a ploy to get your Medicare number that will then be used to bill Medicare for services or products that you never ordered or received.
- Be wary of any person using high pressure sales tactics to try and sell you supplemental insurance products.
- Be wary of any person who initiates contact with you by phone or online and pressures you to buy anything. Legitimate companies don’t need to chase customers.
- Carefully review your quarterly Medicare Summary Notice for any procedures or medical products that you did not order or receive. Make sure you recognize the names of all medical providers listed on the summary. If you need help understanding your Medicare Summary Notice, visit the Senior Medicare Patrol’s website.
If you have any questions about Medicare open enrollment or want to verify that someone is a legitimate employee of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services call CMS at 1-800-772-1213 or visit medicare.gov.