A new Medicare scam targeting seniors is hitting Alabama.
According to AARP, typical Medicare scams involve rogue health care providers or medical suppliers who bill the program for services, equipment or medication that they don’t actually provide, or else inflate the cost of those items.
Lately, scammers are working a new angle – saying Medicare will pay for DNA testing. A telemarketer may offer “free” DNA testing to screen for cancer or to learn how your body may respond to certain medications. As with the medical equipment scam, all you need to do is give them your Medicare number.
“These scams aren’t only financially costly for individuals, they can also threaten your future medical coverage,” explained Evey Owen, Interim Associate State Director of Communications for AARP Alabama. “If shady operators obtain your Medicare number and bill the program for phony prescriptions or unnecessary medical equipment, you could be denied coverage later for drugs or devices you genuinely need.”
While consumers should continually stay vigilant to guard against falling victim to scams, there are simple steps you can take to protect yourself from Medicare scams:
-Hang up immediately if you get an unsolicited call from someone who claims to be from Medicare and asks for personal information. Medicare employees will never call you you asking them to do so.
– Review your Medicare Summary Notices (MSN) or Explanation of Benefits (EOB) when they arrive. Look for services, procedures or devices you don’t recognize. If you see something on the statement that doesn’t look right, report it to Medicare’s toll-free number 800-633-4227.
-Never share your Medicare or Social Security number with anyone other than your trusted providers, doctors, or pharmacists.
-You can also put your number on the FTC’s Do Not Call Registry. Click here for more information.
Legislation is being considered that would increase fines and restrictions on robocalls and require phone companies to block robocalls.
Government imposter scams are surging according to the Federal Trade Commission, almost doubling from 2018. Alabamians have been especially targeted by Medicare scams, which rank as the second most common government imposter type scam.