MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Evey Owen with AARP Alabama joins us. Here’s a look at our conversation:
What is Medicare Open Enrollment?
Medicare scams are a year-round concern, but the coming weeks warrant special attention. Open enrollment runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7 — during that timeframe, Medicare beneficiaries can make changes to their health plan and prescription coverage. Seniors across the country will be shopping for the best deal for their health care dollar. Unfortunately some of the deals they will be offered won’t be deals at all.
What do these Open Enrollment scams look like?
Imposter scams are expected to spike during this season with scammers posing as Medicare employees calling and emailing seniors offering free gifts or limited time offers. These scams are all designed to capture your Medicare number so the crooks can charge Medicare for services you didn’t receive.
Refund ripoffs are another common scam this time of year. The scammer tells you you’re entitled to a refund for last year’s Medicare premiums. All you need to do is verify your identity. They may claim that your refund must be direct-deposited into your bank account. In fact, that’s just another lie to glean your account number and possibly drain your checking or savings funds.
You may also be contacted by unscrupulous salesmen using open enrollment period to try to sell you products that will supposedly save you thousands of dollars in insurance costs. Despite claims of representing Medicare or companies endorsed by it, the motivation is often to sell unrelated, high-commission life insurance or annuities using aggressive sales tactics.
What should people do or not do to protect themselves?
Do hang up immediately if you get an unsolicited call from someone who claims to be from Medicare and asks for personal information. Medicare will never call you and ask you for your personal information, such as your Medicare number, over the phone. Nor will Medicare email or visit your home unannounced to collect data that, after all, it already has.
Review your Medicare Summary Notices (MSN) or Explanation of Benefits (EOB) when they arrive. Look for signs of fraud, including claims you don’t recognize.
Don’t share your Medicare or Social Security number (or other personal information) with anyone who contacts you out of the blue by phone or email, or shows up unannounced at your door.
Don’t believe a caller is a Medicare employee simply because he or she knows some information about you. And don’t trust caller ID – it can be spoofed.
Resources :YOU have the power to protect yourself! Start by visiting the AARP Fraud Watch Network at aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork – it’s a free resource for everyone, where you will find: information about the latest scams, a scam-tracking map, and sign up for our biweekly Watchdog Alerts.
Call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline to report a scam or for victim assistance: 1-866-908-3360