North Dakota citizens are not exempt from the healthcare scams we've been hearing about. Scam artists are using the Affordable Care Act (healthcare reform law) to confuse seniors into providing personal information. The following scams have been reported in North Dakota.
Scammers are seeking personal information such as Medicare and bank account numbers, saying it is required by the healthcare law in order to issue new Medicare cards which contain microchips. Medi-care is NOT issuing new cards. Medicare is NOT going to call you requesting your Medicare number they already have it. Do not provide personal information over the phone if you are unsure about who is requesting the information.
Scammers are calling North Dakota seniors and telling them that as a result of healthcare reform, they have the opportunity to obtain health insurance that is better and more cost effective than Medicare.
Hang up on callers that pressure you for personal information or request that you enroll in a Medicare product over the phone. Guard your health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security numbers in the same way you protect your credit card numbers. Never give these numbers to a stranger on the phone, in an e-mail or on a website.
Scammers who claim to be with the government are going door-to-door to sell fake medical discount plans. Government officials do not sell insurance policies door-to-door or over the phone. As new insurance benefits take effect, rely on trusted sources to tell you what you may need to do.
Scammers are offering to help beneficiaries enroll in a program they claim was created by the new healthcare law. Do not pay anyone to help you receive your new benefits this is a free service. And do not reveal any of your personal information to them, such as your full name, date of birth, Social Security number, Medicare number or insurance card.
A television commercial urging people to call a toll-free number to sign up for "the new government insurance" during a "limited enrollment period." Do not call. Once you have contacted them, they are exempt from the "Do Not Call" registry and can call you as often as they want. In addition, if you sign a form, it is not considered a cold call/visit when they come to your door.
Scam involving diabetic supplies. Seniors receive phone calls from an unidentified individual or company claiming to be associated with Medicare. The caller offers free diabetic testing monitors and other supplies, and they knew the name of the seniors' doctors and tried to coax victims to provide their Medicare billing numbers. This same caller asks if the beneficiary has back problems and then offers a free back brace.
Decline all offers of free medical equipment, health services, groceries or gift cards that require you to provide your insurance information. If the offer is truly free, your ID numbers aren't needed.
Remember, government officials will not be calling you about any of the new health insurance programs or any part of your Medicare coverage.
Report to authorities anyone who claims that they are "with the government" and wants your money or your personal information.
Ignore anyone who uses the sales pitch that "you have been preapproved" for insurance because of the new healthcare law.
Immediately report financial crimes to your bank, credit card company and credit bureaus, and continue to closely monitor bank and credit statements for continued signs of fraud.
To report Medicare fraud, call the ND Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) at 1-800-233-1737. ND SMP is a free service which provides one-on-one assistance with Medicare fraud and scams.
Linda Madsen is project director for N.D. Center for Persons with Disabilities in Minot.