Protecting our senior citizens is a high priority at BBB.
In recent years, criminals have targeted the elderly for identity theft by using scams related to Medicare and other medical insurance.
The bottom line with Medicare-related solicitations is to use an abundance of caution when asked for personal information in exchange for products and services.
Be suspicious of doctors, health care providers, or suppliers who ask for your Medicare number:
- In exchange for free equipment or services
- for “record keeping purposes”
- Tell you that tests become cheaper as more of them are provided
- Advertise “free” consultations to people with Medicare
- Call or visit you and say they represent Medicare or the federal government
- Use telephone or door-to-door selling techniques
- Use pressure or scare tactics to sell you expensive medical services or diagnostic tests
- Bill Medicare for services you never received or a diagnosis you do not have
- Offer non-medical transportation or housekeeping as Medicare-approved services
- Bill home health services for patients who are not confined to their home, or for patients who still drive a car
- Bill Medicare for medical equipment for people in nursing homes
- Bill Medicare for tests you received as a hospital inpatient or within 72 hours of admission or discharge
- Bill Medicare for a power wheelchair or scooter when you don’t meet Medicare’s qualifications
Identity theft happens when someone uses your personal information without your consent to commit fraud or other crimes. Personal information includes your name, Social Security, Medicare or credit card numbers.
The crime takes many forms. Identity thieves may rent an apartment, obtain a credit card, or establish a telephone account in your name. You may not find out about the theft until you review your credit report or a credit card statement and notice charges you didn’t make—or until you’re contacted by a debt collector.
Identity theft is serious. While some identity theft victims can resolve their problems quickly, others spend hundreds of dollars and many days repairing damage to their good name and credit record.
Protect yourself. Keep your personal information safe. Don’t give your information out over the Internet, or to anyone who comes to your home (or calls you) uninvited. Give personal information only to doctors or other Medicare approved providers.
Has anyone approached you in a public area and offered FREE services, groceries, or other items in exchange for your Medicare number? Just walk away!
Has someone called you for a "health survey," then asked you to provide your Medicare number over the phone? Simply hang up the phone!
Have you found suspicious charges such as high-priced medical services or diagnostic tests on your medical bills? These could be fraudulent charges. Call 1-800-medicare and report it!
Have doctors, health care providers, or suppliers told you that the equipment or service is free, it won't cost you anything, and they only need your Medicare number for their records? Just say “no thanks!”
To see if a provider is Medicare approved, call:
• 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227)
• 877-486-2048 (TTY users)
You can find additional helpful consumer tips and advice on preventing fraud at www.ct.bbb.org.
-Submitted by Howard Schwartz, Executive Communications Director Connecticut Better Business Bureau