Medicare Scam Phone Calls That Seniors Should Avoid
While we choose to believe in the good in people, it’s always best to be cautious just in case. Seniors receiving Medicare are commonly targeted by scammers who are on the hunt to steal identities, money, or more. Medicare scam phone calls specifically ramp up during Medicare Open Enrollment, which takes place annually, October 15 – December 7.
As we approach this important time, it is vital that you are aware of what Medicare scam phone calls are out there and what to do if you receive them, so that you can better protect yourself and your loved ones.
How do Medicare phone scams work?
Across the country, seniors may receive calls from scam operators who claim to represent Medicare or a different insurance provider. They usually claim that the senior’s Medicare card has expired, prompting the release of personal information like name, address, Medicare number, or Social Security number.
From offers for free medical supplies and entitlement to refunds to attempts to verify your identity, all of these calls are examples of a scam you should run far away from.
Sharing personal information with these telephone criminals can result in identity theft, fraud, or monetary theft.
Does Medicare make unsolicited phone calls?
The short answer: no.
Medicare will never show up at your home unannounced or give you a call that you were not expecting. If Medicare offices need to contact you, you will likely receive an official letter at your primary address prompting you to set up an appointment to talk with a representative.
There are only two situations that someone from Medicare may call you:
- If you are already a member of a Medicare health or drug plan, you may be contacted by the company or the agent who helped you. However, they would already have access to your personal information, so there would be no need for them to request it.
- If you called 1-800-MEDICARE and left a message, a representative can call you back.
Most often, your telephone may identify that a call like this is “scam likely.” However, if your device does not have this feature, it’s always best to err on the side of caution.
When in doubt, ask the caller for their direct number to call them back, which will likely result in the thief hanging up without giving you the information, as it would expose their call as fraudulent.
Should I give my Medicare number over the phone?
Because many Medicare recipients have received new Medicare cards since 2018, scam calls encouraging the “activation” of these cards are on the rise. You do not need to activate a Medicare card, update your information, or pay any kind of fee to use your new card once you receive it.
You should not share your Medicare number or any other personal information with anyone who contacts you over the phone, unless you have arranged the conversation in advance.
The bottom line — only give your personal information to those who you can guarantee are real people trying to help you, like doctors, insurers, or trusted Medicare professionals.
What can a scammer do with my Medicare number?
To help prevent against identity theft, Medicare has issued new cards to recipients that have your Medicare number instead of your Social Security number on the back.
While this is a great safety precaution, your Medicare number is still directly tied to the rest of your personal information, especially if the scammer already has your name and telephone number. Because of this, offering up your Medicare number to phone scammers can result in identity theft.
What do I do if I receive a Medicare scam call?
If you receive a Medicare scam call, hang up.
Speaking to the Medicare phone scammers, even to tell them off, can encourage more scammers to call your number. If calls persist, consider discussing certain scam blocking features with your phone company.
After receiving a Medicare scam phone call that asks for your Medicare number or other personal information, reach out to 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) — TTY: 1-877-486-2048.
If you have already discussed personal information on the phone that you now believe is in the wrong hands, contact the Federal Trade Commission to protect yourself from the damages of identity theft.
It can be a scary world out there, but the best offense is a great defense. That’s why it’s so important to stay up to date on all things Medicare — you never know when it could save you big!
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