WHAT'S WAPPENING?

Medicare Scams: Are Your Clients Safe?

Posted by Jean A. Lentsch on 4/16/19 3:44 PM

medicare-scams

Scammers are targeting your clients. There’s been a rise in fraudulent phone calls, and many of these scams go after Medicare beneficiaries. Warn your clients about the growing danger.

New Cards, Old Tricks

Last year, CMS began mailing out new Medicare cards to all beneficiaries. Unlike old Medicare cards, these new cards don’t show the beneficiary’s Social Security Number. Instead, they show the Medicare Beneficiary Identifier, a new alphanumeric code. CMS made this change to help beneficiaries keep their Social Security Number private and avoid identity theft.

Scammers took advantage of the change by using it as the basis for new ploys. They called beneficiaries and demanded money or information to process the new cards. These were lies. The scammers just wanted the victim’s money or personal information.

At this point, all of the new Medicare cards have been mailed, but scammers will continue their tricks. The details change, but many aspects of these scams remain the same.

  • Scammers may call to demand immediate payment, sometimes in the form of wire transfers or prepaid cards. Don’t pay them.
  • Scammers may call to verify information. If it’s supplied, they’ll have everything they need to engage in identity theft. Don’t give out personal details to anyone who calls you when you weren’t expecting a call.
  • Scammers may offer you something, like a free piece of medical equipment. They are doing this to try to trick you out of money or information. If you need services or supplies, go through your regular doctor.
  • Scammers may act kind, or they may make threats in order to intimidate the victim. If someone threatens you over the phone, just hang up.
  • Scammers may call multiple times, day after day. They’re trying to wear you down. Don’t answer. Block the number if possible.
  • Scammers may use call spoofing, a technique that disguises their phone number. Your caller ID may show that the scammer is calling from a local number or even the Medicare number, when in fact they’re calling from somewhere else.

Report Suspected Scams

If someone calls out of the blue to make an offer, request your private information or demand payment, that person is most likely a scammer. Don’t cooperate. If a scammer calls you, hang up. If a scammer leaves a message, don’t call back.  

If you think you’ve been the target of a scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission by calling 1-877-382-4357.

Help Your Clients

You can help your clients by warning them about these scams. The FTC also provides free bookmarks with quick tips on avoiding health care scams.

Topics: Medicare scams

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