| Wed, Nov 19, 2014 @ 09:00 AM

Beware of Medicare Open Enrollment and Other Financial Scams

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

medicare open enrollmentAnybody can be the victim of a scam. But older adults seem to be the target more often than other people. One reason is because older adults tend to trust people to do the right thing. Unfortunately, scammers are aware of this and will use this trust against them. Another reason is, it’s thought seniors have lots of “extra” money just sitting around in their bank accounts.

It’s not always strangers who carry out these crimes. According to the National Council on Aging, over 90 percent of all reported elder abuse is committed by an older person’s own family members, most often their adult children, followed by grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and others.1

There are many types of scams going around, usually carried out by complete strangers, namely:

Medicare Scams: Medicare scams can happen at any time during the year. But Medicare Open Enrollment, which takes place October 15 to December 7, is a prime time for identity thieves.

One type of Medicare scam involves a criminal posing as a representative from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) or other government agency who will phone you or knock on your door asking for your Medicare number or other private information. Remember, your Medicare number is usually your social security number. Do not give that person any information. Medicare will never call you on the phone or knock on your door to ask for that type of information.

Other types of financial scams targeting older adults include:2

Counterfeit Prescription Drugs: This type of scam is usually found on the Internet, which is where a lot of seniors look for lower prices for their prescriptions. These drugs could easily be counterfeit and cause harm.

Debt of Deceased Scams: Scammers read obituaries and call or attend the funeral service of a stranger to take advantage of the grieving widow or widower. Claiming the deceased had an outstanding debt with them, scammers will try to extort money from relatives to settle the fake debts.

The Pigeon Drop: The scammer tells the target that he/she has found a large sum of money and is willing to split it if the person will make a “good faith” payment by withdrawing funds from his/her own bank account.

The Fake Accident Ploy: The scammer gets the victim to wire or send money after being told a member of the person’s family is in the hospital and needs treatment.

The Grandparent Scam: Scammers will pose as a grandchild and call a senior and say, “Hi, Grandma. Do you know who this is?” The scammer will say they have an emergency and ask the grandparent for money to be paid via Western Union or MoneyGram.

Email/Phishing Scams: An older adult receives email messages that appear to be from a legitimate company or institution, such as the IRS about a tax refund, asking them to “update” or “verify” their personal information.

If you suspect you’ve been the victim of a scam, don’t hide it, report it at once to your State Insurance Department, State Attorney General or local law enforcement.

For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.

Resources:

Open Enrollment is Open Season for Fraud: Medicare Made Clear

Health Care Frauds & Scams: Learn how to spot scams. AARP.org

Top 10 Scams Targeting Seniors: National Council on Aging

1, 2 Top 10 Scams Targeting Seniors, National Council on Aging (NCOA.org), accessed October 21, 2014

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