Retirement & Financial Planning Report

Ongoing scams involve fraudulent health care screenings, genetic testing, lab work, and the sale of durable medical equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers, canes and diabetic supplies.

The Medicare program has issued renewed warnings about scams and fraud in advance of its annual open season—which starts October 15—saying that “scammers are after medical insurance and financial account information and passwords for their monetary gain and may use the increased public outreach activities during open enrollment as an opportunity to strike.”

As with agencies including the IRS and SSA, scammers often make calls or send emails pretending to be from the agency in order to get personal information—in this case including a Medicare number that they can use to submit fraudulent claims to Medicare.

Also as with those other agencies, the notice advises that you hang up on callers and not to respond to such emails, saying Medicare never contacts beneficiaries to ask for or check Medicare numbers and it never sends representatives to people’s homes to sell products. “Only give your Medicare number to participating Medicare pharmacists, primary and specialty care doctors or people you trust to work with Medicare on your behalf,” it said.

Ongoing scams targeting Medicare beneficiaries, it said, involve fraudulent health care screenings, genetic testing, lab work, and the sale of durable medical equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers, canes and diabetic supplies.

In addition to ignoring such requests for information, the announcement advises that beneficiaries: guard their Medicare card like a credit card; check Medicare claims summary forms for errors; check medications before leaving a pharmacy; be wary of providers who tell you that the item or service isn’t usually covered, but they “know how to bill Medicare” so Medicare will pay; and report suspected fraud at 800-633-4227 or https://oig.hhs.gov/fraud/report-fraud.