Health & Medical Guide

Scams target Medicare recipients

Ivan Raconteur, Staff Writer

Now that the May 15 deadline to enroll in a Medicare D plan has passed, some Medicare recipients have been faced with a new challenge: scams.

Medicare has already referred nearly 250 cases of attempted fraud to federal law enforcement officials, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The scams involve callers asking beneficiaries for bank information, or telling them that they can get a new Medicare card for a fee.

The new Medicare card or prescription drug plan they claim to be selling is not legitimate, according to the CMS.

Callers may use the names of fictitious companies, such as Pharma Corp., National Medical Office, Medicare National Office, and National Medicare.

The number of people falling victim to these scams has decreased in recent months, as information about them has been released, according to the CMS.

The CMS provided the following tips to help people protect themselves against scams:

• No one can come into your house uninvited.

• No one can ask you for personal information during their marketing activities.

• Always keep all personal information, such as your Medicare number, safe, just as you would a credit card or bank account number.

• Whenever you have a question about any activity regarding Medicare, call (877) 7SAFERX or (877) 772-3379.

• Legitimate Medicare drug plans will not ask for payment over the phone or the Internet. They must send a bill to the beneficiary for the monthly premium.

• Beneficiaries can pay automatically by setting up a monthly withdrawal from their Social Security check. Beneficiaries may also pay by monthly check or set up an automatic withdrawal from a bank account, but beneficiaries must call their plan or respond to a mailed payment request from the plan to do this.

Published August 2006

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