Beware of Medicare Part D phone scams

Posted December 20, 2012 at 10:35 am

According to a recent warning from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, seniors and people with disabilities should be aware of a scheme that asks Medicare beneficiaries for money and checking account information to help them with their Medicare benefits.

Recently we received a call from a concerned senior reporting a potential scam. The woman answered a call from someone claiming to be with Medicare. The caller stated that new Medicare cards were being issued as her old card would no longer be good after the first of the year and she would need to provide $299 (a discount from $499) to receive a new card. Fearing the worst that she was possibly losing her Medicare benefits, the woman provided her information to the caller and $299 was promptly withdrawn from her checking account.

This scheme is called the “$299 Ring” for the typical amount of money Medicare beneficiaries are talked into withdrawing from their checking accounts to pay for a non-existent prescription drug or Medicare plan or purchasing a new Medicare card.

The above scam has taken on many different variations to trick the beneficiary out of their savings. Please be advised that no Medicare plan would call and ask a person for bank account information or other personal information over the telephone. No beneficiary should ever provide that kind of information to a caller.

People with Medicare should also remember that they should be on the lookout for anyone trying to take advantage of them and take steps to protect themselves by remembering:

• People selling Medicare plans cannot come into your home uninvited.

• No one can ask you for personal information during their marketing activities.

• Always keep all personal information-such as your Medicare number-safe, just as you would a credit card or a bank account number.

• Whenever you have a question or concern about any activity regarding Medicare, call 1-800-MEDICARE.

The Missouri SMP receives funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Aging to educate health care consumers about fraud and abuse and to offer assistance in reporting complaints. SMP Volunteers have been trained and are available to assist you with questions and concerns regarding Medicare and Medicaid fraud and abuse at no cost to you.

You can contact the Missouri SMP at 1-888-515-6565.