5 Tips for Preventing Medicare Scams

Chad Birt

Written by Chad Birt on Mon Oct 17 2022.

The Medicare Open Enrollment (MOE) period runs from October 15th to December 7th each year. If you or someone you care for is preparing to join a Medicare plan for the first time, it’s crucial you know how to spot and protect yourself from scams. These tips can help:

Thousands of American seniors fall victim to financial scams each year. One report, conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), found that cons targeting the elderly accounted for $1.7 billion in losses in 2021 alone. Fortunately, there are simple ways to protect yourself from a possible scam.

Fraud happens at all times of the year, but it’s especially common during the Medicare Open Enrollment (MOE) period, which runs from October 15th to December 7th each year. To learn more, we reached out to Ari Parker, a Stanford-trained attorney, leading Medicare expert, the co-founder of Medicare advisory firm, Chapter, and the best-selling author of “It’s Not That Complicated”. Parker leads a team of more than 40 licensed Medicare advisors and has been featured in publications like Forbes, The New York Times, and CNBC. 

Medicare scams are prevalent, but by the time you’re finished reading this article, you’ll know some of the most common shakedowns and have a better idea of how to protect yourself. 

Common Medicare Scams to Watch Out For

Before we discuss how to avoid Medicare scams, it’s important you know how to spot them. Here’s a closer look at three popular Medicare hustles:

The Free Medical Equipment Scam

This scam involves an offer of “free” durable medical equipment. 

“Durable medical equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers, and oxygen tanks can cost Medicare beneficiaries hundreds of dollars,” Parker said. “So, no one should be offering these or other similarly priced items for free.”

The “Limited Time Offer” Scam

This scam is similar to the offer of free durable medical equipment, but there’s a deadline involved to increase the pressure.

“The scammer calls and says they have a limited time offer, but then they ask you to verify your identity by providing your Social Security number (SSN) or Medicare number,” Parker said.

The Phishing Scam

With a growing number of seniors using smartphones and social media, Medicare scammers are moving online.

“Phishing is another common scam that older Americans fall for,” Parker said. “Crooks can create fake Medicare email addresses and even make websites that look almost identical to the real Medicare.gov page.”

How can I avoid falling for Medicare scams?

Medicare scams come in various forms, but if you know what to look out for, you can reduce your risk of falling victim. Parker emphasizes several basic security measures, including:

1) Never share your personal information with strangers

“Do not share your Social Security number, your Medicare Beneficiary Identifier, or your checking account information with anyone who calls you out of the blue,” Parker said. 

2) Remember that Medicare reps don’t make random phone calls

“No one from Medicare will call you unless you have called their customer service line in the past and specifically requested a callback,” Parker said.

“If an obscure organization calls you telling you they work for Medicare, stay alert. As I tell my mom and my grandmother, treat your Medicare card like a credit card––safeguard it from prying eyes.” 

3) Only log in to your Medicare account via the official Medicare website

If you need to update your Medicare profile with any information that might be personally identifying, log in via the official Medicare website. 

“Never create any accounts or click on any links in an email that could push you toward a fake page,” Parker said. The same rule applies to random texts and/or push notifications that you receive.

4) Medicare reps don’t make house calls

Medicare representatives aren’t door-to-door salespeople. If someone visits your home claiming to be from Medicare, it’s a scam. Try and collect the person’s name and contact information, if possible, but don’t be confrontational. 

5) Contact the Social Security Administration if your Medicare card is lost or stolen

Treat your Medicare card like you would your passport, birth certificate, or car registration. It’s a critically important document and you should know where it is at all times. If you lose your card or think it's been stolen, call 1-800-MEDICARE. After filing a report, you can request a replacement Medicare card here.

What should I do If I think I’m being targeted for a Medicare scam?

When dealing with anything Medicare-related, pay attention and keep detailed records. Document every interaction, including phone calls, letters, and electronic correspondence. Doing so can prevent headaches and provide peace of mind.

 “If you do receive an unsolicited call and suspect you’re being targeted by a scammer, take as much information as possible and call Medicare directly to report it at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227),” Parker said.

If you're a caregiver, encourage your care recipient to inform you of the calls, texts, and emails they receive during the day.

“Medicare abuse can sometimes go unreported because the victim may not recognize they were the victim of a scam or they may be embarrassed to admit it. Encourage your family and friends to report anything suspicious immediately both to you and to 1-800-MEDICARE.”

 We’d like to thank Ari Parker for taking time out of his busy schedule to share these valuable insights. To lean more about Medicare planning visit his website here.

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Chad Birt
Chad Birt

Chad Birt is a freelance medical writer who resides in Astoria, Oregon. When he isn't behind a keyboard, you can find him hiking, camping, or birdwatching with his wife Ella and their two dogs, Diane and Thoreau.