Scammers Want YOUR Medicare Number!
Did you know that your Medicare number could be more valuable to criminals than a credit card number? If a scammer gains access to your Medicare number, there are several things they can use them for from getting healthcare services under your name to billing for services never delivered. Often these scammers come out of the woodwork during Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) which is between October 15th and December 7th. AEP is a time beneficiaries can make changes and scammers (criminals) know it so they do their best to take advantage of unsuspecting victims.
How do Medicare Scams Work?
Medicare Call Scams
- Typically, the scammer finds your personal information online such as your name, address, date of birth or even your social security number
- Then they use that information when they call you to build trust
- In their conversation they will convey a sense of urgency, using words like “expiring” or “free for a limited time”
- At the end, they will ask you to “verify” your Medicare number, or even other information
- Scammers may even try to get you to enroll in a plan or convince you to send money for their services
The information scammers get from you can even be used to steal your identity, target you again and possibly take funds from your bank account.
What to Watch For
There are multiple red flags when it comes to protecting yourself and your identity.
Legitimate Medicare agents won’t:
- Ask for your social security number, bank account number, credit card information or Medicare number over the phone.
- Offer you cash, gifts or free medical care to join a plan
- Pressure you for a commitment or information, like threatening to cancel you benefits if you do not share your personal data. If you qualify, your benefits cannot be taken away for not signing up for a plan
- Suggest their plan is preferred by Medicare. Medicare does not endorse any specific plan
Simple Tips to Avoid Phone Scams
- Be aware that scammers can fake a caller ID
- Never give out personal information such as account numbers, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, mother’s maiden name, passwords, or any other information that could put you at risk
- Don’t feel rushed about making any plan decisions. You have until December 7th to finalize enrolment and there are no benefits to signing up early
- If you have the slightest doubt about a caller, hang up and call back using a number from your statement, no legitimate agent would fault you for this
If you feel like you have been contacted by someone pretending to be affiliated with Medicare and other Medicare scams, you can call 1-800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227) and share the information with the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
As always, if you have any questions about your current plan or upcoming changes, I am here to help.
Brenda Gilliam, Your Insurance Agent, Medicare Insurance Agent & Extra Help Coordinator
* Not affiliated with any government agency.
*We do not offer every plan available in your area. Any information we provide is limited to those plans we do offer in your area. Please contact Medicare.gov or 1-800-MEDICARE to get information on all your options.