Watch out for Medicare scams during open enrollment

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Although individuals should look ahead to fraud, Reeg also cautions people to watch out for deeds which are lawful but perhaps not of their best interest.

“There’s numerous activity that’s legal that may lead Medicare beneficiaries down a really bad path,” Reeg said.

Television advertisements may look official, they usually may even appear to prompt viewers to call what appears to be a government agency, Reeg warned. Nonetheless, lots of the commercials are for lead agencies that try to get viewers to call them first after which pass their information to agents and brokers who are sometimes in other states.

“When you make that phone call, you could have made that first contact and also you’re mainly signing yourself up for robocalls for the remaining of your life,” she said.

Keep material like Social Security numbers, bank card numbers and banking information private. Beneficiaries also received a private 11-digit Medicare number inside the previous couple of years that ought to stay private.

“Those numbers really haven’t made it into the hands of scammers yet, so let’s keep it that way,” Reeg said.

Scammers may even discover themselves as representatives of Medicare or Social Security. But unless a beneficiary has already initiated a claim, they shouldn’t be calling, Reeg said.

“The minute you hear that, you don’t even enter right into a conversation. You hang up,” said Connie Blum, OSHIIP’s Montgomery County coordinator.

When Blum calls a client, she is careful to say she is from OSHIIP and never from Medicare.

Previously, Blum has received calls that wanted information purportedly with a purpose to confirm the shipment of medical equipment that she never ordered. She hung up, however the callers would falsely tell anyone who responded that Medicare was paying for it, she said.

If she receives a call from a suspected scammer, Blum won’t provide her name or confirm or refute any information.

“Just don’t consult with them,” said Blum, who has been an OSHIIP volunteer for twenty-four years.

Unsure if an agent is legitimate? The Ohio Department of Insurance licenses agents inside Ohio and may confirm the licensure, Reeg said. OSHIIP itself can reached at 800-686-1578 and is an objective source of Medicare information that doesn’t promote anyone company, agent, product or plan.

Those that do fall victim to a Medicare scam can report it by calling 1-800-MEDICARE or OSHIIP.

“Protect yourself, but do report it,” Reeg said.

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