How to Avoid Medicare/Medicaid Scammers Who Prey on Senior Adults
Medicare fraud occurs at all times of the year, but around the holidays, it seems to get even worse, probably because people are busy and distracted. And clever scammers seem to be getting better at it all the time. What they’re after is your personal information so they can gain access to your funds. While anyone is prone, senior adults seem to be the most vulnerable to scams, and to Medicare fraud in particular.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, Medicare fraud cost seniors over $3 billion last year. Typically, the scammers phoned seniors at home, posing as government workers from the IRS, or Medicare, or the Social Security Administration, asking for verification of personal information because there was “a problem” or a “virus on your computer,” or because “You owe money.” They’d often urge people to “act immediately.”
And when you’d ask them a pointed question, they might become belligerent and threaten “cancellation of your Medicare policy.”
The result is that too many people gave away personal information that was used to steal their identity, or may have enrolled in a fake Medicare plan, or paid for services they didn’t want.
How to avoid such scams? As the old expression goes: Forewarned is forearmed! Here are some tips to help you and your loved ones avoid scammers.
- Keep your Medicare and Social Security cards in a safe place; never out in the open.
- Do not give out your Medicare number except to your own physician or health provider.
- Beware of anyone offering “free insurance plans.” Go online and click on Plan Finder at Medicare.gov to verify any plan you are considering.
- Know that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), won’t call you to talk about your plan or ask for “verification” of your social security number birthday, home address, or any other information that could compromise your identity.
- Government agencies won’t send email and they don’t do door-to-door visits. But scammers are clever; they create emails that look official. Do not click on links that ask you to verify information. In fact, don’t click on anything. Just send to Trash.
- If you receive a mailing, double check the phone number, address, and other information against that found on official government websites.
These are a few of the important steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones. If you suspect or want to report fraud or want to speak to someone, use the following helplines:
1-800-MEDICARE or 1-800-633-4227, TTY 1-877-486-2048, 24 hours a day, seven days a week). Medicare.gov also offers some more tips for preventing fraud online.
To obtain the contact information for Adult Protective Services in your area, call the Eldercare Locator, a government sponsored national resource line, at: 1-800-677-1116, or visit their website at: https://eldercare.acl.gov.
You also can report fraud to the Federal Trade Commission here: https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/?pid=A
Besides CMS, you can find out more about Medicare plans from the AARP Just click here: https://www.aarpmedicareplans.com/medicare-articles/medicare-made-clear.html
The Nathaniell Witherell can also be of help. Reach out to Sasha Vasquez, Business Services Coordinator: 203-618-4298