Be aware of scammers targeting Medicare beneficiaries

Local News

Video courtesy: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Scammers could be targeting Medicare beneficiaries here in the Lowcountry.

A viewer reached out to News 2 to warn others about a possible scam involving Medicare – the 83-year-old said she received a phone call from an 843 area code number and spoke to a “representative” who knew her name and medical problems.

Believing the call to be a scam, the woman told the so-called representative her issue was taken care of and said the caller immediately hung up the phone.

News 2 reached out to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to ask them about potential scams and what patients should look out for.

It turns out, CMS had just launched an expansive outreach campaign aimed at alerting Medicare beneficiaries for an uptick in scammers attempting to get their new Medicare card numbers and social security numbers.

They are warning people with Medicare that health care fraud is prevalent, and beneficiaries can take steps to avoid being a victim.

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. 

Remember: Guard your Medicare card like a credit card and check your Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) for errors and be wary of unsolicited requests for their Medicare number.

“Health care scammers will go to great lengths to steal from Medicare beneficiaries. That’s why guarding your Medicare card and personal information is essential,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “You can protect yourself by knowing what to look for. Remember, if a caller says they’re from Medicare and asks for your Medicare number or other personal information – hang up. It’s probably a scam. 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.”

To protect yourself from fraudsters, CMS offers the following security tips:

  • Never accept medical supplies from a door-to-door salesman. If someone comes to your door claiming to be from Medicare, remember that Medicare and Medicaid do not send representatives to your home.
  • Never give your Medicare card, Medicare number, Social Security card, or Social Security number to anyone except your doctor or people you know should have it.
  • Remember, nothing is ever “free.” Never accept offers of money or gifts for free medical care.
  • 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.
  • Always check your medications before leaving the pharmacy to be sure you received the correct medication prescribed, including whether it’s a brand or generic name. If you don’t get your prescription filled correctly, report the problem to the pharmacist.

Report suspected instances of fraud by contacting the HHS OIG Hotline or Medicare’s toll-free customer service operations at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).  You can also find more information at www.medicare.gov/fraud.

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