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Avoid scams during open enrollment

Medicare Open Enrollment Period is an opportunity to review your current health care plan and for scam artists to take advantage of you.

Open Enrollment runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7 every year. During this time, you can make changes to your health plan and prescription drug coverage. Even if you are happy with your current health and drug coverage, review what you have, compare it with other options, and make sure that your current coverage still meets your needs for the coming year. You may even be able to lower your prescription drug costs by doing a comparison among plans.

Open enrollment is also “open season” for identity thieves. Here are some common scams seen during open enrollment:

– Caller claims to be from Medicare and says your Medicare number and checking account information are needed to sign you up for health coverage.

– Caller claims to be from Medicare and asks for your new Medicare number to update your account and to send you the latest open enrollment information.

– Caller claims to be a Medicare representative and says your billing information must be confirmed for you to keep your coverage.

– Caller says you must sign up for a Part D Prescription Drug plan or you’ll lose your Medicare coverage.

To avoid becoming a victim of these scams, hang up. Remember:

– Medicare will not cold-call you.

– Medicare has your new number and will not ask for it over the phone. Do not give out your Medicare number or your Social Security Number over the phone.

– There are no Medicare sales representatives. Do NOT provide any personal identifying information anyone claiming to be an “official Medicare agent.”

– The Medicare prescription drug plan (Part D) is voluntary. Ignore anyone who calls saying you will lose your Medicare coverage if you don’t join their plan.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services does not employ any Medicare sales representatives. Communication from CMS is typically through the mail. CMS is authorized to call beneficiaries in two situations:

– A Medicare health or drug plan can call you if you’re already a member of the plan. The agent who helped you join can also call you.

– A customer service representative from 1-800-MEDICARE can call you if you’ve called and left a message or a representative said that someone would call you back.

Share these tips. Help friends and family avoid these scams this open season.

If your Medicare number or Social Security Number has been compromised, or if you would like to learn more about Medicare fraud and taking steps to prevent it, contact the ND SMP at ndsmp@minotstateu.edu 1-800-233-1737 or 858-3580.