LEWISTON – SeniorsPlus, Western Maine’s designated Area Agency on Aging, has been asked to pass along information about Medicare scam alerts.
The Maine Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP), a national program fighting fraud and abuse in the Medicare system, would like to pass on a few tips from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on how to avoid becoming a victim of a scam.
People on Medicare — and those who aren’t — are regularly targeted for scams. You might have gotten a call saying something like “Hello, this is Medicare calling. Your coverage is about to be canceled.” Every year during open enrollment season (and plenty of other times too), scammers pretending to be from the government call trying to steal your money and your personal information. Here’s what to do:
- Hang up. If someone calls claiming to be affiliated with Medicare, asking for your Social Security number or bank account information to get a new card or new benefits, that’s a scam. Period.
- Never give personal information to a caller claiming to be affiliated with Medicare. You can’t trust your caller ID. Scammers can make these calls look like they’re coming from the government even when they’re not. Before you give out any personal information, make your own call to 1-800-MEDICARE to check it out.
- Report the call. Report these impersonators at 1-800-MEDICARE and ReportFraud.ftc.gov. The more we hear from you, the more we can help fight scams.
Another scam is related to Medicare Part D, which is an optional prescription drug insurance program for people on Medicare. You pay a monthly premium to an insurance carrier for your Part D plan. In return, you use the insurance carrier’s network of pharmacies to buy your prescription medications. To protect people, the law is very specific about how Medicare prescription drug plan providers conduct themselves.
- Medicare Part D plan representatives may enroll you on the phone only if YOU call them. To be on the safe side, call Medicare first to check out any provider you may be tempted to contact. The number to call is 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) and the TTY number is 1-877-486-2048. The Medicare phone line is open 24 hours a day. The government does not recommend any particular prescription drug plan — it simply verifies that a provider is legitimate.
- Anyone who contacts you about Medicare Part D without you seeking them out first is likely a scammer. Don’t share your information, and don’t pay them.
- Medicare Part D providers may come to your home only if you’ve invited them. Don’t talk to anyone who comes to your door with unsolicited offers of drug coverage. The law says prescription drug benefit companies can’t visit your home unless you’ve given them permission.
To report suspected Medicare fraud, contact your local Senior Medicare Patrol Program at 1-877-353-3771. To learn more about Medicare Part D and the plans available in your area: call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or visit Medicare.gov.