Scams using tactics around healthcare continue to be one of the highest reported scam categories and this doesn’t just happen during open enrollment. TNS’ Robocall Protection team will be sharing information to help protect consumers from Medicare scams as they evolve throughout 2024.
Targeting the Elderly with New Tactics
A common healthcare scam is where an attempt is made to defraud Medicare by stealing a person’s healthcare information or making false Medicare claims. This scam is typically targeted towards the elderly and while it has been around for a while, fraudsters are updating their tactics constantly. The caller may claim to be from the Medicare ‘enrollment center’ or to be a Medicare ‘advisor’. Often, they will falsely claim to be conducting a survey where they ask about your coverage and will ask for personal information at the end. A newer scheme is calling to say your Medicare card is expired or you need an updated one with a chip. They will use this reason to ask for your personal information so they can ‘update’ the card and mail you a new one, however, Medicare does not offer these types of cards.
Schemes Offering Fake Rebates and Refunds
Another health insurance scheme involves bad actors claiming to be able to offer rebates, refunds or cheaper plans. Medicare is free for most recipients, but some have extras with a monthly premium. The scammer may offer a better deal, but it is just a scheme to get your credit card or bank information. They may also offer a rebate or refund which do exist, but you should hear about these directly from your provider, not from a cold caller. Unfortunately, this is an attempt to gain access to your money.
Free Medical Supplies Come at a Cost
A free product or testing trial may seem like a good proposition, but this is used as a common scheme by fraudsters to get your Medicare information. Scammers often use cold calls, and the caller may claim they are from a company that will give you free medical supplies in exchange for your Medicare information. Genetic testing is often used in this scam. The victim will often not get their free supplies or testing and more worryingly their Medicare can be canceled if it is taken and used by someone else. Sometimes the scammer will send the supplies, but they will be very low quality. It can also prevent Medicare from covering you for similar supplies when you need them, because they will think you have already ordered them. Fraudsters have been known to use text for this scam, so be alert for texts messages in addition to phone calls.
The best way to prevent falling victim to Medicare scams is to educate yourself and loved ones. The US Government has a US Health and Human Services fraud hotline (800-447-8477), which can be used if you think you have been defrauded.
It is best practice to never engage with unknown numbers and report phone numbers being used by scammers to your carrier. If you believe you are the victim of a scam, you can report it to your local police, state attorney’s general office and the FTC.
Call-blocking apps, including those powered by TNS Call Guardian®, are also a great resource for reporting and blocking unwanted robocalls. Stay vigilant, share information about scams with others and be sure to check out our monthly Scam of the Month page updates.
John Haraburda is Product Lead for TNS Call Guardian® with specific responsibility for TNS’ Communications Market solutions.
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