With the dramatic increase over the last year of callers claiming to be either the IRS or U.S. Department of Treasury, Your BBB cautions consumers to be on alert for potential schemes targeting seniors during Medicare’s open enrollment period, from October 15 through December 7. During this time, senior citizens 65 and older can assess their Medicare plans and consider various plan options.
Any Medicare plan changes that are made during open enrollment will be effective on January 1, 2016.
When evaluating Medicare plans, seniors should ensure they are not taken advantage of by con artists claiming to be with Medicare, attempting to misguide them, or trying to obtain and misuse their personal information. BBB Tips to Protect Yourself During Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period:
• Do not provide social security numbers or account information to callers who claim to be Medicare employees. Medicare employees will not call and request such information by phone.
• Seniors should not provide personal information to callers who claim to be calling on behalf of a doctor, hospital, or health agency. When seniors are uncertain about the identity of a caller, directly contact the organization in question.
• Medicare does not have door-to-door sales representatives. Seniors should be cautious of individuals posing as door-to-door sales representatives for Medicare, and should not allow such individuals into their homes.
• Be wary of offers to provide free medical exams or supplies. Dishonest companies may use these offers to obtain and misuse your personal information.
• Be careful of marketing promotions where a free lunch is offered to seniors in exchange for attending a presentation or signing up for a plan. Federal law does not permit a free meal to be provided during the marketing of Medicare health or drug plans. People offering this incentive should not be trusted.
• If a representative demands that billing information be provided by phone or on the web, refuse to provide such information and request a bill in the mail. Medicare plan representatives are not allowed to ask you for payment over the phone or web.
• A salesperson should not use aggressive sales tactics to force a senior into purchasing a Medicare product or plan that is unnecessary or unsuitable.
• If you have any doubts, do not make a decision until discussing with a trusted friend or relative to determine what meets your needs. If you believe you are a victim of Medicare fraud, file a report at www.StopMedicareFraud.gov or call (800) 447-8477.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has created a YouTube video titled “Medicare & You” explaining how to protect yourself from becoming a victim of Medicare fraud. To learn more about Medicare, visit the official Medicare site at https://www.medicare.gov/ Medicare (Español) https://es.medicare.gov
For more information you can trust, visit bbb.org/evansville.