The caller asks for you by name and knows your mailing address. Often the callers pose as Medicare employees, asking beneficiaries for banking information under the guise of helping an intended fraud victim enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan. ND SMP reminds seniors that Medicare will not call and ask for a person's personal information and such details should never be given to an unknown person. Remember, Medicare already has your Social Security number, and they would never ask you to confirm this or your Medicare number.
Another common scam we've been seeing in our area is for free diabetic-testing supplies. The caller asks for you by name and says you've qualified for free diabetic-testing supplies you just have to confirm your Social Security number and doctor's name.
An unsuspecting senior may provide this information to the caller. Because your Social Security number often serves as your Medicare number, the con artist could file a false Medicare claim or steal your "medical identity." Stolen medical identity then gives the con artist access to your medical history along with free treatment in your name.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid reports 47 percent of callers to their Medicare fraud hotline (1-800-Medicare) have already given out their Medicare number before they call!
Among the new complaints to the OIG Telemarketing Fraud Alert Hotline (7/29-8/5/11):
--79 percent of unsolicited phone calls were for diabetic supplies (e.g., glucose monitors, lancets & test strips)
--21 percent of calls were for orthotics and other supplies
--53 percent of companies reported offering their items for free or no charge
--37 percent of companies told beneficiaries they were calling on behalf of Medicare or SSA
If you've received this type phone call, ND SMP recommends reviewing your Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) to assure Medicare has not been charged for these supplies.
DO NOT wait for your MSN to arrive in the mail. You can either call 1-800-Medicare or create an account on "mymedicare.gov" to view your MSN.
By registering and monitoring your account on-line, beneficiaries can review their Medicare claims as soon as they are processed; thus, identifying much quicker if there have been any unusually high charges, procedures that were charged twice, charges from medical facilities they had not visited, or charges for medical equipment that they never received.
Whether you review your MSN online, or the statement you receive in the mail, it is important to contact either ND SMP at 1-800-233-1737or Medicare (1-800-Medicare) if you think you've been a victim of fraud.
Linda Madsen is project director for N.D. Center for Persons with Disabilities in Minot and for the N.D. Senior Medicare Patrol program in North Dakota.