For the September Fraud Fact, the Missouri Senior Medicare Patrol is sharing four tips from the National Council on Aging to protect you from scams.
First, hang up on government imposters. They may call claiming to be from the IRS, Social Security, or Medicare. The phone number on caller ID may match the toll-free number for the agencies. The caller claims your account is locked or they need information from you. They may threaten to arrest you if you don’t do what they say. Just hang up. If you don’t recognize the number, just do not answer the phone to begin with. And don’t return calls either.
Second, don’t accept offers of “free” medical equipment or tests. They may show up in the mail, on the phone, in the mall or elsewhere. While Medicare covers preventive services and durable medical equipment at no or low cost, there are rules on getting them. Start with your primary care doctor or trusted specialist – not someone selling a test or equipment. Suppliers of back braces or wheelchairs that market directly to consumers sometimes could use your personal Medicare information to bill Medicare for thousands of dollars.
Third, check your Medicare Summary Notice. Medicare sends an MSN to beneficiaries every three months. The MSN lists providers that billed Medicare on your behalf, what Medicare paid, and amounts you owe. Check your MSN regularly to identify any suspicious activity, such as a bill for equipment you didn’t receive or from a provider that you do not know.
Fourth, protect your identity. Make sure that you do not give away your date of birth, Social Security number, Medicare number or any other personal information unless you know for certain who you are dealing with and why they need it.
As always, report suspected Medicare fraud to the Missouri SMP at 1-888-515-6565.
This project was supported, in part by grant number 90MPPG0040, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.