Lindeen Warns of Medicare Scams

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Seniors: Don’t give your Medicare number to unsolicited visitors, callers

HELENA, Mont. – Montana Insurance Commissioner Monica J. Lindeen issued a warning Thursday to Montana Medicare beneficiaries to be on the lookout for scams that can pop up during Medicare open enrollment.

Open enrollment began Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7. During this time, beneficiaries may make changes to their 2015 Medicare plan and their Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage.

“Now is the time when identity thieves target Montana seniors, trying to trick them into giving out personal information, like their Social Security number,” Lindeen said. “Don’t fall for it. No one from Medicare is going to call you and ask for your Medicare number. They already have it.”

One of the most dangerous ploys is a scammer calling, emailing – or even visiting – a senior’s home claiming to be from Medicare and reporting that new Medicare cards are being issued. To get yours, they say, you need to update your information – information which includes your Medicare number, which is often a user’s Social Security number.

In fact, Medicare is not issuing new cards. The agency will never ask a beneficiary for information over the phone or email or visit unannounced. The agency already has its beneficiaries’ information and does not need to request it again.

Lindeen also warned of other scams and scenarios that should raise red flags:

  • A caller ID that displays a trusted name or number. Caller ID can be manipulated to show any name or number a scammer chooses. If you get an unsolicited phone call from someone claiming to be from Medicare and they start asking for personal information, just hang up.
  • Phone calls promising “free” medical supplies. Or store-fronts that promise free check-ups. These scenarios often promise free services or supplies in exchange for your personal information.
  • Door-to-door sales people. Medicare has no sales representatives. No insurance company representative will come to your door without an appointment.

Making changes to one’s Medicare plan can be difficult. Lindeen recommended Montanans with questions contact the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) which serves Montana seniors with a variety of insurance resources. SHIP counselors are in all parts of Montana. Find one near you by calling 1-800-551-3191.