Don’t Get Caught Up in Common Medicare Scams During Open Enrollment

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According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, there are over 59 million Americans currently enrolled to receive Medicare benefits. It is because of this ever-growing number that scammers and deceptive salespeople are targeting Medicare beneficiaries. It is important to be aware of current scams and laws that can safeguard your identity and benefits.

Common types of Medicare fraud include:

Receiving an Unsolicited Phone Call Offering Braces

Beware of unsolicited phone calls and cards from unscrupulous people looking to bill Medicare and insurance for back braces, neck braces and knee braces. Medicare should already have your information. If Medicare or another government agency contacts you, they should have your name and address. A call asking if you are in pain or would like a brace is most likely blasted out to thousands of phone numbers.

  • Medicare does NOT call with unsolicited offers of products or services. If someone calls claiming to be with or calling on behalf of Medicare, and you have not requested a call, hang up.
  • If your medical provider has not prescribed a brace, Medicare or any other insurance will likely not cover the cost, leaving you with the expense. BBB has heard from seniors in the past saying their doctors indicated that a brace would not help them, and possibly make a problem worse.
  • Don't accept items that you didn't order. Refuse the delivery and/or return it to the sender. Keep a record of the sender's name and the date you returned the items.
  • If you are unsure whether a call or offer is from Medicare, or you gave your personal information to someone claiming to be with Medicare, call 1-800-MEDICARE (633-4227) to report it.
  • If you are unsure of what tests, items, or services your current plan covers, go here.

Calls to Confirm a Medicare Number

Someone may contact you claiming to be with Medicare and stating that your Medicare benefits are in danger of being cut off. To keep your benefits, you must confirm your Medicare number. It is important to keep in mind that Medicare will not normally contact you by telephone without prior contact. If you have reached out to Medicare and they contact you via phone, they will already have access to your Medicare number and other personal information. Your benefits will not expire and there is no reason to ever provide your bank information to anyone claiming to be with Medicare.

Calls from Someone Claiming to be a Representative from a Medicare Program or Government Agency

Quick and simple -- the government will never call you regarding your health insurance, Social Security number or bank information. If there is an issue or question, they will send it through the mail.

Anyone who tries to sell you Medicare insurance while claiming to be an “official Medicare agent” is a scammer. There are no Medicare sales representatives. For example, someone claiming to be an insurance agent contacts to say you should “act now” to get your new insurance. They may promise to get you a special deal or help you avoid a penalty. Or they might say they can help you avoid losing access to your current doctors under Medicare – unless you sign up for their Medicare Advantage Plan. Why is this important? If you’re already on a plan and someone convinces you to switch, you may not be able to get back on your old one due to preexisting conditions.

All insurance agents selling Medicare plans must be licensed in the state where they’re making the sale. According to Medicare.gov, a licensed insurance agent cannot do the following:

  • Visit your home without permission.
  • Cold call you without a prior relationship.
  • Leave flyers or business cards at your door or on your car.
  • Pressure you to switch plans.
  • Offer a gift or promotional item that is worth more than $15.

To read a full list of what a licensed insurance agent can and cannot do when selling Medicare plans, go here.

Source: BBB.org, Medicare.gov and FTC.gov 1. Source: United States Federal Trade Commission, www.ftc.gov - not subject to copyright protection. 17 U.S.C. 403.

If you would like to report a scam, call your BBB at 256-533-1640 or go to the BBB Scam Tracker. To find trustworthy businesses, visit bbb.org.

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