Better Business Bureaus (BBB) across the country have received calls from seniors being targeted for Medicare fraud. Seniors in northern Arizona report receiving calls from individuals claiming to be with Medicare offering “free” items such as a back brace and diabetic supplies, in exchange for consumers’ financial and personal information. Due to the high likelihood that callers are not associated with Medicare, Better Business Bureau (BBB) is alerting the senior community to be wary of calls offering Medicare benefits.
According to seniors, the phone rings and caller identifies themselves as a representative from Medicare. The caller proceeds to offer “free” items to entice consumers to provide their Medicare number, as well as insurance and personal information. In another scenario, the caller claims “all seniors are getting a new Medicare card” and, for verification purposes, they must provide the bank account number associated with their social security benefits.
“Consumers should be suspicious of unsolicited calls from anyone claiming to be from Medicare,” said Matthew Fehling, BBB President/CEO. “Medicare will generally not make unsolicited calls to update information, issue a new card or offer free medical equipment. We recommend seniors hang up and call a trusted Medicare number if they have questions regarding their benefits.”
BBB offers the following tips on safeguarding personal information and protecting against Medicare scams:
● Be suspicious of any door-to-door or telephone solicitations claiming to be affiliated with Medicare.
● Be wary of anyone offering you something for “free” in exchange for your Medicare number. Remember, Medicare will not pay for medical equipment without a physician’s signature certifying that it is necessary.
● Do not provide your bank account information, Medicare number, social security number or any other personal information to unknown individuals over the phone; particularly telephone marketers claiming to be from Medicare and asking for payment.
● Review medical bills, Medicare Summary notices and insurance Explanation of Benefits for medical equipment or service charges that you did not incur. If you find unusual or questionable medical charges, contact your health care provider immediately.
● Only give your insurance/Medicare information to those who have provided you with medical services.
● Keep accurate records of medical appointments, procedures and medical equipment.
● Ask your medical providers what they will charge and how much you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket.
● Never sign blank Medicare insurance forms.
● Call your local BBB to obtain information on a business or visit www.arizonabbb.org.
● Ensure your provider is approved by Medicare by contacting them directly at 1-800-633-4227.
If you suspect or to report Medicare fraud, contact the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of Inspector General at oig.hhs.gov or call 1-800-447-8477.
Arizona residents may also contact the Arizona Division of Aging and Adult Services at 1-800-432-4040.
About BBB Serving Central, Northern & Western Arizona
BBB is an unbiased organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. Incorporated locally in 1938, today your BBB serves communities in Central, Northern and Western Arizona, supported by over 9,600 BBB Accredited Businesses. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Reviews® and charity BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust.