(TNS)—Medicare open enrollment is ongoing and ends December 7. And you better believe the scammers know it.
Maybe it’s someone making a call, claiming to be from your insurance company and demanding information on the spot. Some scammers say you’ll need to buy a gift card or wire money soon so that you won’t lose your health care benefits. Others are trying to get your Social Security number or other information to use in identity fraud.
Signs of a scam include someone who calls and claims to be able to “help you” sign up for coverage or demands to “confirm billing information” so that you don’t lose coverage. Remember, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Social Security Administration will not call you and claim that you must update your information.
Other warnings about scams include:
Watch Out for the Old Back Brace Scam
Con artists are back in action and calling seniors covered by Medicare with all sorts of deals on “free” or “low-cost” back braces, knee braces and other medical equipment. No one from Medicare, of course, is making such calls. It’s only a scam that’s designed to get your Medicare information, according to a recent alert by the Federal Trade Commission.
“If you give them your information, they’ll use it to fraudulently bill Medicare for braces and other medical equipment,” the FTC warns.
Such a move can hurt you because you’d use up some medical benefits and might not be able to get the appropriate equipment, if your doctor later prescribes it.
Smart moves: Never give your Medicare or personal information over the phone to someone who calls asking for it. Check your Medicare Summary Notice to make sure you’re only being charged for services you really got. Don’t fall for paying for things that you didn’t order.
Beware of Calls From Social Security
Consumers are seeing a sizable uptick in callers from impostors claiming to be Social Security Administration agents. Social Security-related calls are now the “go-to” for phone scams after skyrocketing in the first six months of 2019, according to BeenVerified’s Spam Call Complaint Monitor. The scam unseats calls from fake IRS agents, which had been the No. 1 source of complaints during the previous three years, according to the nationwide analysis of more than 200,000 spam call reports.
Spam and robocalls from fraudsters claiming to be from the Social Security Administration accounted for nearly 10 percent of user complaint comments during the first six months of this year—a more than 23-fold increase compared to the first half of 2018, according to BeenVerified, which provides services like reverse call look-up to search who called or texted you.
If you receive a suspicious call from someone alleging to be from Social Security or the Office of the Inspector General, report that information online at oig.ssa.gov/report or call the Social Security fraud hotline at 800-269-0271 weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Time.
The FTC also has a specific site for Social Security scams: identitytheft.gov/ssa. The site has tips for what to do if you gave your Social Security number to a caller and now are worried about identity theft. One such tip: Consider placing a free credit freeze on your credit file to restrict access to your credit report and make it more difficult for identity thieves to open credit in your name.
The FTC site also gives you a spot for reporting Social Security-related robocalls.
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