As Medicare beneficiaries pore over their choices for coverage for everything from medical services to prescription drugs, the open enrollment period is prime time for fraudsters to try to scam older consumers.
Medicare’s open enrollment begins October 15 and runs through December 7.
Here are some common scams during open enrollment:
• Someone calls claiming to be from Medicare and says your Medicare number and credit card information are needed to sign you up for health coverage. Hang up the phone. Medicare does not call beneficiaries to sign them up.
• Someone calls saying you have to sign up for a Part D prescription drug plan or you’ll lose your Medicare coverage. Again, hang up the phone. Buying a Part D plan is completely voluntary and has nothing to do with the rest of your Medicare coverage.
• Someone calls claiming to be a Medicare representative and says your billing information must be confirmed to keep your coverage active. Again, hang up. Medicare employees will not cold-call you and are not allowed to ask for payment information on the phone or online.
• Someone calls asking for your Medicare number to update your account and to send you the latest open enrollment information. Stop. Do not give out your Medicare number or any other personal information over the phone.
• A scammer calls a Medicare beneficiary to notify them that they are owed a refund because they’ve reached the prescription drug coverage gap known as the “donut hole.” Of course, the catch is that you must provide your birth date, Social Security number, bank account and Medicare numbers so the refund can be automatically deposited into your checking account. Medicare will never call and asking for this information.
Guard your personal information. Treat Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security numbers like a credit card number, and never give these out to a stranger.
The best place to get information about your Medicare coverage or enrollment is either online at Medicare.gov or by calling the Medicare hotline at 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227).
If you think you have fallen victim to a scam, call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360 for guidance and support. For information about other scams, sign up for the AARP Fraud Watch Network at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork. You’ll receive free email alerts with tips and resources to help you spot and avoid identity theft and fraud.