As the annual Medicare open enrollment period comes, a new wave of scammers look to take advantage of beneficiaries. With under two weeks left, avoiding getting scammed as you’re putting your choices together is essential.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published a list of what to look out for and how to avoid falling victim to Medicare scams. You probably began seeing ads about plans when preparing for Medicare open enrollment on your TV, phone, post, and email. But remember, scammers follow the news, too.
The FTC has stated on its website, “When it’s Medicare open season, or when health insurance is a big story, scammers get busy contacting people; they want your Social Security number, financial account numbers or insurance information.”
To avoid being scammed:
Never provide any personal information to an unknown sender, regardless of their insistence on being a government or Medicare employee.
Medicare will never phone you to sell you anything or visit you at your home. Medicare, or someone representing Medicare, will only call and ask for personal information in limited situations.
Never click on links, open attachments, or return calls to any numbers if you’ve received messages claiming to be from Medicare. These are scammers phishing for personal information.
“Throw away the mail, delete the messages, or get off the phone,” the FTC says.
COVID Test Kit Fraudsters Want Your Info
In a June 8 blog, the FTC warned that Medicare recipients were being targeted in free COVID-19 test kit scams, resulting in scammers attempting to convince people to disclose their Medicare information and then billing Medicare for COVID-19-related services in the name of Medicare recipients.
According to an October 16 news story, two individuals from Albuquerque, New Mexico, have recently been targets of this ongoing scam.
According to the FTC’s website, if you receive a COVID-19 test kit you didn’t order, don’t pay for it; by law, companies can’t send unordered merchandise and then demand payment. This means individuals never have to pay for items received but didn’t order. Unordered merchandise does not need to be returned. Individuals are legally entitled to keep it as a gift.
Suppose you need help comparing Medicare costs, coverage, and plans. In that case, State Health Insurance Assistance Programs provide local insurance counseling and assistance.
Visit Medicare’s website for more information about these incidents and how to report them.
In addition, the FTC advises that if someone contacts you pretending to be from Medicare, call 1-800-MEDICARE and report it to the FTC.