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Watch Out for Scams During Medicare's Open Enrollment

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If you've never faced Medicare Open Enrollment, let me tell you, it's a bear. When my kidneys failed, I was uninsured, and Medicare made sure I stayed alive (and by Medicare, I mean all of us paying taxes). Signing up for it was both easy, and VERY confusing.

A lot of people are there to help figure out what plan is best for you, how the plans are different, and how to go crosseyed checking all the plans out there (there are a ton). So it's not surprising people in the midst of all this would be easily taken in by a phone call offering help.

And that's what happened to a woman in Iowa.

Is she on the phone with Medicare? Maybe. Sergii Gnatiuk GettyStock

The Social Security Administration says scams pop up to high activity during Medicare's open enrollment (going on now thru December 7, 2021). According to the Washington Post, Iowa's Linda Heimer was a victim of the most common scam.

"A common trap begins with a phone call like the one Linda Heimer, an Iowa resident, received in October. She won’t answer the phone unless her caller ID displays a number she recognizes, but this call showed the number of the hospital where her doctor works." (WP)

Check THAT out, they were able to fake the local hospital's phone number. So when the scammer said they needed her Medicare number, Heimer paused a bit but handed it over.

“I can’t believe this, but I gave her my card number,” Heimer said. Then the caller asked questions about her medical history and offered to send her a saliva test “absolutely free.” That’s when Heimer became suspicious and hung up. She contacted the 800-MEDICARE helpline to get a new Medicare number and called the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline and the Federal Trade Commission. (WP)

Then when the scammers called back, duping the Medicare toll-free number, Linda recognized the voice and said, straight up, "You're not from Medicare!" and hung up. Give 'em hell, Linda!

But James, She Got A New Medicare Number, So All Good, Right?

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For Linda, yes. But for us taxpayers, even though the number's been canceled, the scammers could still bill Medicare for services or supplies because who knows how long it takes to really deactivate a Medicare number? We've all interacted with the government on some level, right?

To be fair, my experiences when calling the Medicare toll-free number, I received fantastic problem-solving help. And the local Social Security Office people were great. But for every million that go right, it only takes 10 or 20 to go wrong to send a whole lot of money to the wrong place.

So Be Careful...

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Make sure everyone you know knows Medicare transmits information by mail, and will only call if you've set up a call with them. Also, keep your Medicare/Medicaid information private. The US Government has all your information (trust me, lol).And if you're uncertain, no Medicare representative will mind you calling back on the real toll-free line to make sure.

 

I think all scammers should go to jail...but should we be looking at the reviews to make sure they get the best one?

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