Like most seniors, you were probably inundated with information about Medicare during fall Annual Enrollment Period (AEP). You may think that now AEP is over, you are in the clear for a while – unfortunately, that’s not the case. Many seniors are still being targeted by Medicare call centers with the goal of getting them to change plans. Worse still, their sales tactics are not always straightforward. Now is not the time to let down your guard.
Deceptive and Predatory Sales Tactics
Medicare scam calls frequently follow a familiar script. Callers identify themselves as being with an insurance carrier and ask seniors if they have an agent of record assisting them. Even if you say yes, the caller will continue on, saying that’s great and offering to find some additional free benefits for you, such as vision, dental, hearing, or gym benefits. This may sound like a good idea and seem harmless enough, but you may be unknowingly signing up for a completely different Medicare plan with a different insurance carrier. Many seniors realize this only after the fact, when they find they have coverage that does not meet their needs. Their doctors may no longer be in their network and their drugs may have different coverage or no coverage at all.
Don’t Make Any Changes Without Speaking with Your Agent
Remember, your agent helped you select a plan based on your individual needs, doctors, medications, etc. Your plan may already include the “free benefits” the caller is offering. Your agent is available to answer any questions or concerns you have and ensure you make the right decisions. Don’t make any changes without speaking with your agent first.
If you enrolled in a plan unintentionally or based on incorrect or misleading information, you should call CMS at 1-800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227) and request a retroactive disenrollment or a Special Enrollment Period.
Medicare Scams Are Prevalent
Other Medicare scammers may target you with the goal of stealing your money, your identity, or your Medicare benefits through fraudulent billing.
If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from Medicare, hang up. Medicare does not call you unless you call first and ask for assistance. If Medicare needs to reach you, you’ll receive a letter. Don’t trust the name on your caller ID: scammers can fake a caller ID to impersonate Medicare or other familiar organizations.
- Scammers try to alarm you by saying there is a problem with your Medicare ID card and they need to issue a new one. They will ask you to confirm your Medicare ID number and other personal information.
- Callers say you are eligible for some type of free benefit, such as genetic testing for cancer, free diabetic supplies, or medical equipment like braces or crutches. They will request your Medicare number to submit a claim or a credit card to cover mailing costs.
- Automated robocalls impersonating real companies call to say you qualify for a free personal emergency alarm system. The recording will direct you to press one to talk to a customer service representative, who will then try to get you to disclose your personal information.
Never give out personal information of any kind to someone you do not know. This includes your full name, address, date of birth, Medicare ID number, Social Security number, credit card number, or bank account information. Hang up on anyone who asks you for any of this information. Don’t be tricked into sending any money through wire transfers or purchasing gift cards. Know your benefits and check your explanation of benefits statements to look for any suspicious services or charges.
You should report any unethical behavior or suspected scams to CMS and the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
When you work with Medicare Educators, you have peace of mind knowing you are dealing with local, licensed professionals who have in-depth knowledge of the insurance carriers and plans in your community. They will take the time to assess your needs and find the best coverage for you.