With the annual Medicare open enrollment period comes a new wave of scammers looking to take advantage of beneficiaries. With under two weeks left in the period, it's important to not get scammed as you're putting your choices together.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published a list of what to look out for and how best to avoid falling victim to these Medicare scams. You probably began seeing ads about plans when you were preparing for Medicare open enrollment on your TV and phone as well as through mail and email. But don’t forget, the FTC cautions, scammers follow the news, too.
“When it’s Medicare open season, or when health insurance is a big story, scammers get busy contacting people,” the FTC said on its website. “They want your Social Security number, financial account numbers or insurance information.”
To avoid being scammed, the FTC said to never give your personal information to anyone who contacts you out of the blue, even if they claim to be from the government or Medicare.
“Remember that Medicare will never call you to sell you anything or visit you at your home," the FTC said. Medicare, or someone representing Medicare, will only call and ask for personal information in limited situations, the agency added.
You should never click on links, open attachments or call any numbers if you receive messages claiming to be from Medicare, the FTC said. These are probably scammers phishing for personal information.
“Throw away the mail, delete the messages or get off the phone,” the FTC said.
COVD test kit fraudsters also want your info
Earlier this year, the FTC also warned that Medicare recipients are being targeted in free COVID-19 test kit scams with scammers trying to convince people to disclose their Medicare information. In a June 8 blog, the FTC warned consumers about scammers stealing Medicare numbers and billing Medicare for COVID-19-related services in the name of Medicare recipients.
According to an October 16 KOAT-TV news story, scammers are still at it, recently trying this scheme on two Albuquerque, New Mexico, residents.
If you receive a COVID-19 test kit that you didn’t order, don’t pay for it, the FTC said. “By law, companies can’t send unordered merchandise to you, then demand payment,” according to the FTC’s website. “That means you never have to pay for things you get but didn’t order. You also don’t need to return unordered merchandise. You’re legally entitled to keep it as a free gift,” the agency said.
If you need help comparing Medicare costs, coverage and plans, the State Health Insurance Assistance Programs can provide local insurance counseling and assistance.
See Medicare’s fraud and abuse site for more information about these types of incidents and how to report them.
In addition, the FTC advises that if someone contacts you pretending to be from Medicare, call 1-800-MEDICARE and also report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
Joey Solitro is a freelance financial journalist at Kiplinger with more than a decade of experience. A longtime equity analyst, Joey has covered a range of industries for media outlets including The Motley Fool, Seeking Alpha, Market Realist, and TipRanks. Joey holds a bachelor's degree in business administration.
How to Measure the Health of Your Retirement Plan
These five key indicators can help you make decisions based on the overall performance of your retirement plan rather than individual variables.
By Brian Skrobonja, Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC®) Published
Four Easy Ways to Get Yourself Fired
Being a standout on the job can sometimes be as simple as showing up to meetings on time, responding promptly to requests, doing your homework and not being a jerk.
By H. Dennis Beaver, Esq. Published
Citi Plans to Put You Into 'Relationship Tiers' Next Year
New Citi structure for retail accounts resembles travel rewards programs that offer more perks as balances increase.
By Joey Solitro Published
Hospitals Say Increased Medicare Reimbursement Is Not Enough: Kiplinger Economic Forecasts
Economic Forecasts Medicare will bump up hospital reimbursements by 3.1% in 2024, but the industry says it's not enough as it comes off its worst financial year of the pandemic.
By Matthew Housiaux Published
Will Weight-Loss Drugs Spike Medicare Costs?: Kiplinger Economic Forecasts
Economic Forecasts Lawmakers are trying to get weight-loss drugs like Wegovy covered by Medicare. Long-term savings are possible, but it could cost the program $27 billion.
By John Miley Published
More Weight-Loss Drugs, Like Ozempic, are in the Works: Kiplinger Economic Forecasts
Economic Forecasts Pharmaceutical companies are developing more weight-loss drugs similar to Ozempic, but these injectables are still expensive.
By John Miley Published
Medicare Costs to Go Down in 2023
Retirement Lower-than-expected spending on an expensive drug and other things means beneficiaries will pay less next year.
By Elaine Silvestrini Last updated