Seniors with Medicare benefits should beware of unsolicited phone calls offering a free new glucose monitoring meter for diabetics.
According to the Nevada Attorney General’s Office, the offer is a Medicare scam designed to convince unsuspecting elderly victims to give up their Medicare number.
The caller claims to be from a government agency and says that they are informing seniors who have Medicare B coverage that they are eligible for the new glucose meter. That’s the bait. The hook is when the caller asks you to confirm that “you are who you say you are” by giving them your Medicare number.
Don’t bite! This classic “free offer” scam depends on the fact that — despite all warnings to the contrary — people still want to believe that they can get something for free. Especially something they consider an entitlement, like Medicare benefits.
Medicare NEVER makes calls to beneficiaries out of the blue. All official Medicare business is conducted by mail.
Scam artists may offer bogus products and services, pretend to be federal officials or insurance company representatives, or even set up fake health screening booths to steal Medicare numbers.
Consumers should always check their Medicare Summary Notices to make certain that they or their doctors have authorized the charges shown.
Common Medicare scams include:
• Sales pitches for discounted prescription drugs that never arrive.
• Telemarketers selling unnecessary Medicare-covered products or services, such as “Medicare Arthritis Kits” which do not exist.
• Offers of help in applying for Medicare-issued checks to cover prescription costs, even though Medicare provides the checks automatically to eligible individuals who reach a gap in Medicare prescription drug coverage known as the “donut hole.”
• Free health screening booths at malls or other public places are usually safe, but scams do exist. Consumers should make sure that the screeners
represent a legitimate organization such as a local hospital or public health center before they provide their Medicare numbers.
Scam artists use Medicare and Social Security Numbers to submit fake bills or commit identity theft; and some may use banking information to charge consumers for products that are never delivered.
Here’s another reason to protect yourself or your aging parent or loved one from Medicare scams… Having your Medicare number stolen may just be the beginning of a bigger nightmare.
Scammers who target the elderly are always looking for gullible victims who can be conned again and again. If they can get a senior’s Medicare number, why not go back to the well for a social security card or checking account number?
If you suspect Medicare fraud, call your state Attorney General’s office. You can also report Medicare fraud to the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Health and Human Services Agency.