The problem is that Social Security also offers identification through your Social Security number which can be used to retrieve money out of accounts, even if they have nothing to do with this program. Fraudsters have been utilizing any tools possible in order to take advantage of this.
As stated last year:
“the FTC has received nearly 2.4 million claims of fraud, identity theft, and other scams this year through Sept. 30. The total price tag for consumers who reported losses: $1.2 billion.”
Medicare phone scams aren’t the only channel used by scammers as Medicare scams online are also on the increase.
Common Medicare Scams
Medicare Scams Online via Phishing Emails
One of the main tools that have been set up by the SSA is the mySocialSecurity portal which allows you to manage your information, benefits, and contact officials.
This portal – although incredibly convenient – is also easy to exploit. If a scammer has the right details and you haven’t yet set up an account, the thief is able to set it up in your name. This means it is impossible for you to sign in, or worse, they could start receiving your benefits without your knowledge.
This is a technique widely used by online hackers called phishing. Often phishers will send out an email letting you know that something is amiss with your account. Maybe, they will even say that you are entitled to extra benefits or even that your account might be frozen if you don’t immediately respond. The main objective is for you to take immediate action and click on a link where you can enter your personal information.
Online scammers are savvy and are able to copy logos in order to create a fake copy of a legitimate site, right down to the logo. You can check the email address of the sender to better understand whether they might be a fraud.
On the other hand, if you have been asked to click on a link you can hover above it with your mouse until the URL is revealed. All SSA or any other government websites will end in either .gov or .gov/.
If you get an email asking you to click on a link such as this one, it is fake:
if the URL of the website is followed by any additional letters or another period, you can be certain it is taking you to a fake site.
If you wish to check the validity of these sites you can by calling the toll-free number (877) IDTHEFT (438-4338) or contact the SSA fraud hotline at (800) 269-0271.
Medicare Scam Calls
Medicare scams online aren’t the only Medicare card scams going around. Obviously, a lot of the elderly aren’t going to be using email on a regular basis. This is why phone calls are another popular Medicare scamming medium.
Typically, the content of scam calls from Medicare is similar. In Medicare phone scams, you will be told you need to receive additional funds or you will be asked to verify that you wish your COLA to increase. Sometimes you will be notified that your assets are being frozen due to suspicious activity. The person on the other end of the phone will often present themselves as someone calling from SSA headquarters or an SSA employee.
Scam Medicare calls are made by those looking to get their hands on your information. Sometimes, it’s not a person that’s doing the calling, but rather a robocall – a recording engineered by scammers attempting to get you to reveal sensitive SS details. Remember these and keep a close eye on scam Medicare calls.
Medicare supplement scams also come via a Medicare helpline scam where you are contacted in order to receive certain supplements. You will only be able to receive those supplements when you hand over your details. So be mindful of that, so that you won’t have to deal with Medicare supplement scams.
“Many of the calls involve demands for sending a gift card or wiring money in exchange for, say, not suspending your benefits. Others are seeking your identifying information — whether your Social Security, bank account, or Medicare Number — which could be used to commit financial fraud.”
If you get scam calls from Medicare, it is strongly recommended that you instantly hang up the phone. There are no consequences for you doing this as the real SSA will never ask to increase your COLa amounts over the phone or take any penalizing action when you hang up. Be vigilant of any Medicare helpcare scam that may come your way.
Your next step is to call the SSA confirmed number which is (800) 772-1213. From there you can ask a legitimate employee whether the call you just received was genuine or fake.
The “Yes” Medicare Call Scam
Another devious strategy used by scammers is known as the “yes” calls. When you receive one of these calls you might be asked questions such as “can you hear me?” or “are you (name)?”
The aim of these Medicare call scams is to record you saying “yes.” This is so that your voice signature can be recorded in order to authorize fraudulent charges on the phone.
If your data such as your credit card number or your Social Security number is stolen it can be sold on the black market. This in combination with a recording of you saying “yes” is sometimes enough to persuade certain financial institutions to permit fake transactions to go through.
“Although scammers take various routes in their methods — i.e., emails with fraudulent links, mailed advertising — phone calls tend to be their favored way of reaching Medicare beneficiaries, Poss said. And, with the technological ability to spoof numbers — make the call appear to come from a place other than the source — a call can look official.”
COVID-19 Medicare Scam
In light of the spreading of the coronavirus, scammers are now shifting focus and according to the Federal Trade Commission, Medicare scams are in full swing even during the lockdown.
“Scammers might call to offer things like a “COVID-19 kit,” “Coronavirus package,” or Medicare benefits related to the virus. But they’ll ask you to verify personal information like your bank account, Social Security, or Medicare Numbers. If you get a call from someone who says they’re a Medicare representative and they ask for this information, hang up. It’s a scam, not Medicare calling.”
Fake Genetic Testing Scam
DNA testing has become increasingly popular all over the world. Not only can you find out about your ancestry with such a test, but you can also determine whether you have predispositions for serious illnesses.
You might be asked to take part in “free cheek swabs” to do so covered by Medicare. It is likely that you will be asked your Medicare ID in order to file the claim and even requested other identification to prove who you are.
If this isn’t something that you have discussed with your doctor, and something you’ve both agreed upon you should know that it is a scam. Medicare doesn’t cover random genetic testing.
Current Medicare Scams Targeting the Elderly
The elderly are huge targets when it comes to current Medicare scams, particularly because they are thought to be the most trusting generation.
Some of the most common scams when it comes to seniors is people either knocking on doors or calling on the phone claiming that switching plans is a must. This is not true. You are able to stick with your current plan and don’t have to make any changes.
“Sometimes the caller will become stern and demand information, or they may hang up and then call you repeatedly,” said Danielle Roberts, co-founder of insurance firm Boomer Benefits in Fort Worth, Texas.
“Don’t fall for it,” she said.
Other times you might be approached by someone asking to update your information in order to receive a new Medicare card. This is false. In fact, Medicare will never email or call you asking for your personal information.
Con artists also like to use time-sensitive sales calls in order for the elderly to take action quickly and not think about the deal. Basically, if it sounds too good to be true, it normally is. To have a look at all the possible plans you can call 800-MEDICARE to find out.
The elderly might be contacted by people claiming to be from their doctor’s office or even from a local health agency.
On the Medicare website, users – particularly the elderly – are encouraged to protect themselves from Medicare fraud and guard your Medicare card as you would your credit card.
- Medicare will never contact you for your Medicare Number or other personal information unless you’ve given them permission in advance.
- Medicare will never call you to sell you anything.
- You may get calls from people promising you things if you give them a Medicare Number. Don’t do it.
- Medicare will never visit you at your home.
- Medicare can’t enroll you over the phone unless you called first
Avoid Medicare Scams
If you receive an unexpected call from anyone claiming to work at Medicare, you should know that this is already a red flag. True Medicare employees won’t call you without you sending an email or leaving a message on Medicare’s customer service line.
Avoid Medicare fraud by staying wary of those who:
- Tell you that the more tests they perform, the less you pay out of pocket
- Use telemarketing (calling you at home) and door-to-door sales
- Offer gifts as incentives to use their services
- Routinely waive copays or routinely charge copays, even though your plan makes the service available with no copay
- Tell you they know how to get Medicare to pay for something that’s not covered under your plan
- Claim that Medicare endorses their products or services
Remember never to give out your Medicare card to any individual unless they are your health-care provider. Some imposters might claim that you need to return your card, but the government will never need your old card back. It is recommended that any old cards are destroyed.
Do not believe that someone is a Medicare employee simply because they say they are or even if they have medical information about you. Successful scammers normally do their research in order to get the job done.
Those that have seniors in their families should talk about Medicare fraud.
Seniors should avoid isolation from others by staying in contact with family, friends, and any community activities. This way they will not have the urge to overshare sensitive information with random people over the phone.
Seniors should also include various safeguards such as a power of attorney so as to prevent any information from being misused.
The elderly should also use direct deposit checks that will go straight into their account and keep those accounts protected.
Don’t be a Victim of Medicare Fraud
Use an Online Background Check
One of the best ways to prevent Medicare fraud happening to your or to your loved ones is by using an online background check. If you have received a call from someone claiming to be working there and have you thinking “is Medicare Plus card a scam?” an online background check is the best way to go if you think you’re dealing with Medicare card scams.
If you have a missed call from a random phone number you can use Been Verified or Tuthfinder’s reverse phone lookup to find out the name of the owner as well as where the number is from. By doing this it will prevent robocallers from discovering that your phone number is active.
When you subscribe to either of these two background checks and perform a reverse telephone lookup you will be able to find out other related information such as email addresses, work history, or even social media accounts and websites that belong to the owner.
Being contacted by any person that is looking to go over your sensitive Medicare details will not be an issue for you if you inform yourself on time. Head over to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services website to find out what the latest scams look like and how they are targeting individuals.
You should also use a calendar and record all of your doctor’s appointments including any tests that you might have had done in the past.
Look Out for the Signs
Medicare scammers taking part in things like the go Medicare benefits help center scam will often attempt to get their hands on the following information:
- Your date of birth
- Your place of birth
- Your Social Security number
- Your mother’s maiden name
- Your credit card number, or just the last 8 digits of your credit card
- Any bank account number
Remember never to give out this information either over the phone, via email, or through any website.
Know that refusing to hand over this information will not bring about any penalties. The best way to check who is calling you is by using a background check reverse phone lookup and then contacting Medicare on (800) MEDICARE (633-4227).
Reporting Medicare fraud is simple by calling the above number. You will need to have the following information on hand to do so:
- Your name
- Your Medicare Number
- The provider’s name and any identifying information you have
- The payment amount approved by Medicare
- The date on your Medicate Summary Notice or claim
- The service you’re questioning as well as when it was supposedly given or delivered
Conclusion: Stay Alert to Avoid Medicare Scams Online and Medicare Scam Calls
During the period of open enrolment, many people are targeted by Medicare scam calls. On the other hand, seniors aged 65 and over have their mailboxes stuffed with plans and offers of new Medicare supplemental coverage of Medicare Advantage plans
Although some of these offers are legitimate, many of them are not. Those contacting you to verify your identity, offering fake-free medical supplies, or claiming that you are entitled to a refund will normally ask for your Medicare Number as well as bank account information.
The truth is Medicare won’t normally contact you unless it is an exceptional circumstance such as if you have called 1-800-MEDICARE and requested for them to call you back.
If a phone call is indeed necessary you will receive an official letter to arrange a telephone interview from the SSA.
The best way to stay on top of things is to subscribe to an online background check and keep yourself and your senior family members secure from Medicare scams.