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  • Geebo 8:00 am on November 4, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , medicare, , ,   

    New Medicare card scam is back 

    By Greg Collier

    Currently, we are in the middle of Medicare’s open enrollment period. This is the time of year when Medicare recipients can either stay with their current coverage or seek out a new plan. As we have previously mentioned, open enrollment is also open season for Medicare scammers. This is the time of year when many scammers use Medicare’s open enrollment as an opportunity to try to steal their victims’ Medicare information. The stolen information can then be used to file fraudulent Medicare claims.

    One of the ways scammers get this information is to pose as Medicare and call people to tell them they’re getting a new Medicare card. The scammers will then ask the victim to ‘verify’ their Medicare number and other information so they can issue a new card. A woman in Tennessee was approached by scammers over the phone and was told she was getting a new Medicare card that had a chip in it like a debit or credit card. The woman even asked if the caller was from Medicare or a third party, and the scammer claimed to be from Medicare. The woman knew this was a scam and gave the caller some phony information before hanging up on them.

    The main thing to keep in mind with Medicare scams is that unless you have an ongoing issue with your Medicare coverage and have spoken to an actual Medicare rep, Medicare will never call you. Any major communications that Medicare has with its recipients is done through the postal mail, that includes when new cards are to be issued. If someone calls you claiming to be from Medicare, hang up, even if the caller ID says they’re calling from Medicare. As we’ve known for some time, any phone number can be spoofed.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 14, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , medicare, ,   

    Medicare open enrollment brings out scammers 

    Medicare open enrollment brings out scammers

    By Greg Collier

    This Friday, October 15th 2021, starts the period known as Open Enrollment for all Medicare recipients. Until December 7th, Medicare recipients will be able to decide if they want to stay with their current Medicare coverage or switch to a new insurer. With so many options to choose from and so many changes made each year, it can be difficult for seniors to keep up with all the necessary policies and paperwork each year. Unfortunately, Open Enrollment is also open season for Medicare scammers and fraudsters. Not only are there scams to go along with Open Enrollment, but some bad business practices as well.

    While not technically a scam, some less than reputable insurance brokers will try to pressure seniors into switching to their company’s Medicare Advantage plan. While Advantage plans can be beneficial to some, they can also be limiting to others. It all depends on the patient’s personal needs, but some insurance agents are just looking for the sale. If you’re thinking about switching from Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan, please take the time to research the advantages and disadvantages of doing so. Don’t let some salesman pressure you into a decision that you may regret having for the following year.

    As far as scams go, identity theft is often the biggest threat seniors face during Open Enrollment. Scammers will call their victims posing as being from the government with an official-sounding title like ‘health care benefits advocate’, or something along those lines. The victim will be promised that they’ll be signed up for the same or better coverage at a lower price. The phony agent will ask for all the victim’s personal information, including their Medicare number. Medicare fraudsters will then use the stolen number to charge Medicare with fraudulent procedures or items which could affect the victim’s benefits down the line. These scammers will also use high-pressure tactics to get the victim’s information, like telling the victim their benefits could expire if they don’t give their information right now. The calls can even appear as they’re coming from Medicare’s official phone number.

    If you’re already enrolled in Medicare, your Medicare plan will only call you if you’re already a member of that plan. If you feel uncomfortable taking the call, you can always call your insurance company’s customer service number on the back of your insurance card.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 16, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , genetic testing, , medicare, ,   

    Scam Round Up: Beware of these Medicare scams 

    By Greg Collier

    There have been a number of stories about Medicare scams in the news this week. Unfortunately, they all deal with victims giving their Medicare numbers to scammers over the phone. Here are the highlights of each scam.

    ***

    The AARP is warning Medicare recipients across the country about a phone scam where the fraudsters are threatening victims with termination of their benefits. The scammers are posing as Medicare and calling seniors across the country, telling the seniors that they need a new Medicare card or their benefits will be terminated. The scammers will then ask the victim for their Medicare number for the supposed new card. Instead, the scammers are selling the Medicare numbers to other scammers, who may use the numbers to file false claims. When Medicare does issue new cards, they do so through the mail and will not call recipients asking for information that Medicare should already have.

    ***

    Patients of a healthcare network in Missouri have reported receiving calls from scammers posing as hospital representatives. This includes spoofing the hospital’s actual phone number. Many of the calls have been trying to get patients to order medical equipment like back and knee braces. The scammers have been asking for patients’ Social Security and Medicare numbers. You should only order medical equipment like this if directed by your physician. To do so any other way could lead to fraudulent claims or ill-fitting and ineffective equipment. No physician or medical professional will ever call you unsolicited to try to sell you any medical equipment.

    ***

    Lastly, we have another scam that’s been targeting Medicare recipients nationwide. In this scam, again, the victims are being cold-called, which is something Medicare will never do. The scammers are claiming to be a patient advocate working with Medicare. They offer free genetic testing to detect cancer or heart disease, but if you don’t act soon, you’ll be ineligible for the free procedure. Again, Medicare does not make offers on medical procedures like it’s double coupon day at your local supermarket. Usually, if a test is ordered through one of these calls, it either never appears or is dubious in quality and efficacy. This could also affect patients in the future if they need one of these tests, but already have one billed to Medicare. These tests are quite expensive, and this scam could lead to patients having a substantial medical bill in the thousands.

    ***

    It really is just good practice to not give your Medicare number out over the phone, especially to someone who calls you out of the blue.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 2, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: life insurance scam, , , medicare,   

    Medicare, lost millionaires, and a loan scam 

    Medicare, lost millionaires, and a loan scam

    It’s time for us to bring you another trio of scams that are happening around the country. Even though these scams may not be in your area, they could be soon.

    In North Dakota, authorities there are warning of a Medicare scam that’s been plaguing senior residents of the state. Scammers are said to have been calling residents claiming that they need to be issued new plastic Medicare cards to replace the paper ones. All the resident needs to do is to verify their Medicare number. In reality, the scammers could potentially file numerous fraudulent medical claims using the victim’s Medicare number. Always keep in mind that a government agency will never ask you for information that they should already have.

    In one county in Kansas, the local sheriff is warning residents about a scam that sounds straight out of an old sitcom. Residents in Brown County have received letters in the mail saying that a relative has died and left them a life insurance payout worth millions of dollars. The problem with this scam is that scammers seemingly know the actual names of distant relatives of the residents who have recently passed away. This adds an unfortunate air of legitimacy to the scam. However, the legitimate-looking letter only provides an email contact for someone to process the ‘paperwork’. We imagine that there would be some form of payment requested to process the phony insurance policy.

    Officials in Georgia are warning residents there about a phone scam that’s offering loans in value up to $30,000. With this scam, the ‘loan’ comes at the cost of fake processing fees that could reach $1000 themselves. The scammers are asking for these payments in cashier’s check, wire transfer, or prepaid debit card. These are all forms of payment that could be considered untraceable once the money is spent. Officials would like to remind residents that legitimate lenders make their money through interest once the loan is paid back and not through outlandish fees.

     
  • Geebo 8:39 am on May 20, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , medicare   

    COVID test scam targets elderly 

    COVID test scam targets elderly

    During the current crisis, the elderly are not only the most vulnerable to the virus but could also be the most vulnerable to coronavirus related scams. Once again, an old scam has been repurposed for the global pandemic and it involves seniors’ healthcare.

    According to the Better Business Bureau, scammers are posing as Medicare employees offering coronavirus home testing kits. They ask their victims for personal information including seniors’ Medicare information. Tests are sent to the victims but again, no home test has been approved for use by the FDA. The BBB says that these scammers are more than likely committing Medicare fraud and are billing these tests to Medicare. If Medicare is paying the scammers for these tests, this could affect Medicare coverage for future coronavirus testing by doctors.

    If you receive one of these calls or possibly an email from someone claiming to be from Medicare offering you a test kit, either hang up on the call or delete the email. Whatever you do, please do not respond to any of these offers. Keep in mind that if Medicare was actually calling you, they wouldn’t need to ask for your Medicare number.

    This also goes for people on private health insurance as well. Your insurance company isn’t going to offer you an at-home test kit and won’t ask you for your ID number. If your insurance company ever does need to call you, they’ll already have that information on hand.

    Both Medicare and private insurances mostly communicate with patients by postal mail. Anybody claiming to be them with some kind of offer is either an identity thief or an insurance fraudster.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , medicare,   

    Coronavirus puts new twist on old scams 

    Coronavirus puts new twist on old scams

    As with any time of crisis, there is no shortage of scammers during the coronavirus pandemic. We’re not just talking about people buying insane amounts of toilet paper and hand sanitizer and trying to sell them with enormous markups. A number of scams that are preying upon covid-19 fears are just age-old scams dressed up in a coronavirus suit. Here are some more coronavirus scams to look out for.

    Johns Hopkins University has a very useful real-time map showing the spread of the coronavirus. The map from Johns Hopkins is safe as can be. However, there are malicious sites out there that have similar looking maps but are injecting malware into the user’s device that is designed to steal passwords. This malware can then spread to other devices and continue the process. If you think your device may be infected, run an antimalware application like Malwarebytes to remove the malware.

    Scammers are continuing to call people promising at home coronavirus tests. In at least one case, scammers are promising Medicare recipients a coronavirus testing kit. This is similar to many scams that prey upon Medicare patients by offering them a free medical item such as a back brace. As in other cases, the scammers are trying to get the victim’s personal information such as their Social Security number and other identifying information for potential identity theft. Please keep in mind that at the time of this posting there is no home test kit for covid-19. Testing can only be done at approved medical facilities and clinics. If you think you may have covid-19 symptoms, please call your doctor and they’ll advise you on how to get tested.

    The impersonation scam, or grandparent scam, is also having a coronavirus layer attached to it. Usually, in this scam, someone will call an elderly person and tell them that one of their grandchildren are in some kind of trouble and need money to rectify the situation. In this new version of the scam, people are being told that a loved one is in the hospital with coronavirus and can’t be treated until a deposit is paid. As much as the US healthcare system revolves around money, no hospital is going to turn away a covid-19 patient for any reason.

    Fear is to scammers like blood in the water is to a shark. These times are stressful enough without having to worry about being scammed. Don’t allow fear to override your sensibilities and you’ll be able to get through this.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 29, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , medicare,   

    Are ‘free’ back braces really free? 

    Are 'free' back braces really free?

    Have you ever seen a TV commercial with an offer that you know has to have a catch but can’t quite put your finger on it? For example, there are TV commercials currently airing that offer Medicare recipients a knee or back brace for little to no cost. While the catch may not be targeted directly at consumers there is still a catch. The catch is actually targeted at Medicare which could end up costing individual recipients in the long run. The TV commercials for the back brace usually look something like this.

    The Federal Trade Commission recently released a report calling these offers scams. According to the FTC, the braces are offered to Medicare recipients to obtain your Medicare information so these companies can bill braces you may not need to Medicare. Back in April, Federal Investigators broke up an orthopedic brace scam that was costing Medicare $1.2 billion a year. Shady doctors were said to have written the prescriptions for these braces and then received kickbacks from the company peddling the braces. If a Medicare recipient were to order one of these braces it could affect their benefits. If they needed a better or different brace in the future it could be denied by Medicare due to frequency policies thereby affecting the patient’s potential health issues.

    The FTC advises that under no circumstances should you give out your Medicare information over the phone unless it’s a doctor you’ve seen personally. Also, you shouldn’t accept any medical equipment in the mail unless you or your doctor ordered it. And if you are in need of a back or any kind of brace, only use one that your doctor has prescribed to you as your doctor knows your exact needs, a company on TV does not. Lastly, always check the noticed you receive from Medicare in the mail to make sure that no one else is using your Medicare benefits.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 17, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , medicare, ,   

    Medicare fraudsters target seniors during Open Enrollment 

    Medicare fraudsters target seniors during Open Enrollment

    The Open Enrollment period for Medicare subscribers just opened. This is the time of year where Medicare recipients select their health insurance plans for the next benefit year. This process can be extremely stressful and confusing even for insurance industry veterans. With so many options to choose from and so many changes made each year, it can be difficult for seniors to keep up with all the necessary policies and paperwork each year. So it should come as no surprise that fraudsters will be plentiful during the Open Enrollment period.

    Once again the Better Business Bureau is warning Medicare recipients of the various scams that go around this time of year. One of these scams takes the form of receiving a phone call offering you a free back or knee brace, except you’ll have to give up a lot of personal information to receive the item. Another common scam is someone calling you and asking for your Medicare number then telling you that there is a problem with your benefits or some form of fraud has been committed with your coverage. Either way, the scammers will try to tell you that you’re in danger of losing your benefits. The calls can even appear as they’re coming from Medicare’s official phone number.

    Your Medicare plan will only call you if you’re already a member of that plan. If you feel uncomfortable taking the call, you can always call your insurance company’s customer service number back. As a general rule of thumb, you should never give your Medicare or Social Security number to anyone over the phone. Medicare and your insurance company already have your information and don’t need you to repeat it.

     
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