Why Senior Citizens Need to Protect Themselves During Open Enrollment
With Medicare’s Open Enrollment in full swing for 2017, you’re likely in the middle of comparison shopping for the best plan to meet your needs. At the same time, the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, reports that this is also a popular season for thieves and scammers to take advantage of senior citizens. Here we show what to watch out for and how to avoid these types of scams.
Be Wary of People Requesting Personal or Financial Information
First, it’s important to note that Medicare plan representatives are not allowed to request payment information over the phone or online. If someone contacts you and asks you to verify or confirm your billing or payment details, do not provide it to them. This is a scam and you can always call 1-800-MEDICARE or medicare.gov if you need to verify your plan’s details.
The same holds true with your Medicare number. It should be protected just as much as your other personal or financial information. Scammers will try to contact you claiming they need this number to update your account or send you benefit information. Do not provide this number to anyone you can’t verify as a valid Medicare plan representative. If you’re suspicious, you can always hang up and contact 1-800-MEDICARE to confirm your plan information.
You should also be wary of pressure tactics that try to get you to sign up for a specific program, like prescription drugs, or you are offered free exams or supplies. Again, these are scams designed to get you to provide your personal or financial information so do not give it out under these circumstances.
What to Do If You Think You’ve Been a Victim of a Medicare Scam
If you have given out your Medicare number, bank or credit card information to someone you feel pressured you or can’t be verified, you can report it to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. You can either call 1-800-447-8477, visit the Stop Medicare Fraud site, or if you suspect a scam, you can visit the FTC complaint site. By visiting these sites, you can find the latest news on the fight against this type of fraud and what you can do to protect yourself and your finances.