We’re all familiar with what a scammer is: someone who will tell you false information to gain access to your money or identity. As we grow further into a digital era, we become more aware of the scamming techniques that may be used against us to take what we’ve earned. Unfortunately, scammers are also becoming smarter and are implementing new ways to trick us. Not everyone is able to recognize that they are being scammed, especially seniors.
However, this doesn’t mean we should sit back and let someone try to steal our information or money. It’s important you know what scammers will do so that you can identify this and stop it from happening to you.
In this article, we’ll be covering the popular scams that are out there regarding Medicare and will tell you how you can protect yourself from Medicare scammers. But, first, we’ll delve into why scammers try to target seniors in particular.
The FBI has listed four reasons as to why they believe scammers prey on seniors:
- Seniors are the most likely to have extra money (a home, retirement savings).
- Seniors are less likely to report fraud because they don’t know who to call, they’re embarrassed, or they’re unaware they’re being scammed
- Older adults often suffer from memory loss, meaning they’re less likely to be a reliable witness. Scammers know this and use it to their advantage.
- Individuals who grew up in the 1930s – 1950s are known to be more polite and trusting. Scammers will use these characteristics against them.
Now that you know why you’re at risk, it’s important to know what the scammers will do.
What they do
The best way to describe how scammers will approach you is to walk you through an example. Let’s set the scene:
Rae Ann has just woken up and has made herself a cup of coffee. While she sips on her coffee, she checks her emails, and sees that she has an email from “John.” He is a Medicare agent who believes her Medicare benefits are about to be suspended. All he needs is her credit card and Medicare information, as well as her phone number, and he will be able to fix her problem. Rae Ann is surprised – after all, she had no idea that her benefits were about to be suspended. She had just talked with an agent last month and he didn’t indicate that she was at risk of losing them. Not only that, but she is diligent on paying her monthly premiums. However, fearing that ignoring the email will worsen the problem, she quickly clicks on the link that “John” provided and types in her information. Shortly after, Rae Ann receives another email from “John” that states her benefits are no longer in danger. Everything worked out great, right?
Two days later, Rae Ann is enjoying another cup of coffee when she gets an alert from her bank. Hundreds of dollars linked to her account has just been spent in another state. She’s shocked and confused. First, she discovered that her benefits may be taken away, and now her credit card has been hacked and hundreds of dollars are gone? After explaining the bizarre events to her neighbor, he tells Rae Ann something she never thought she’d hear. “John” isn’t really a Medicare agent. “John” is a scammer, and she’s just been scammed.
It’s important to note that you can be scammed in more ways than one. Being scammed is not an event that is limited to emails. You can receive scam phone calls or text messages too. Scammers will find anyway to contact you to establish an emergency or immediate benefit: you’re paying too much or not enough, you need to verify your personality, or even messages displaying false promises, like a free health consultation.
And, unfortunately, this is a common occurrence. There are thousands of scammers in the United States alone who are actively trying to take what doesn’t belong to them.
How can you tell if you’re being scammed?
Luckily, spotting a scammer doesn’t have to be difficult. Let’s say that you get an email telling you that your Medicare information needs to be verified. Have you ever wondered who is behind this email? Simply tap on the email address of the sender and see what it is. If the address is sent by someone who has a name separate from who is contacting you, or it’s from one that is filled with random numbers and letters, someone is trying to scam you.
Also, if a deal seems too good to be true, then it is. If something sounds like an amazing deal, then double check with a specialist who will be able to tell you whether what you are seeing is legitimate.
Make sure you’re also reading the email in depth. If the email is filled with sentences in broken English, then you’re reading a message from a scammer.
Finally, there is another method that could expose an entire scam. Copy the body of the email and paste it into your internet search engine. Results could lead to you discovering that this email wasn’t sent to you on accident. Your search will link you to online forums and articles about the specific scam you’re receiving with warnings not to fall for it.
Below is a list of Medicare scams that you need to look out for:
- Biden Health Email
- Fake COVID-19 Vaccine
- Natural Health Sherpa Scam
- Free Medicare Back Brace
- ZuPoo Colon Cleanse
- Medicare Scam Calls
- Free Blood Pressure Check
- Medicare Coverage Helpline Scam
- Free Medicare Alert Bracelet
- Medical Alert System Reviews
- The Hospital Lien Scam
- Buy Tramadol Online
- Fake Life Alert
- Medical Alert Device Scam
- Medical Billing Service
- Hospital Bracelet
- Buy Prescription Drugs Online
How to protect yourself
There are a lot of ways to protect yourself from being scammed. The first way is to know who you’re dealing with. Knowing who is contacting you, and whether that person is fake, will clue you in on the best way to respond to someone who is phishing for your information (hint: no response is the best response). Other important things to keep in mind while guarding yourself are:
- Recognize the ways people will try to scam you. Sometimes, scammers will try to make themselves seem more credible by coming to you in-person. Any service that needs to be in-person, and is approved by Medicare, will require scheduling. Medicare agents will never show up to your house unannounced. Medicare will also not be calling you unsolicited, especially regarding your Medicare card. Look out for calls that encourage you to “renew” your Medicare card because these are scams. Your card will never expire.
- Take no immediate action. Like we stated before, scammers will try to create a sense of urgency so that you quickly respond and give them the information they are seeking. Try not to act on anything immediately. Take the time to analyze what they are wanting and determine whether it is a rational request. Even if it does seem real, contact your Medicare agent to double check.
- Never give details away. Sometimes, scammers won’t ask for a sum of money. They’ll disguise the message to make it seem like they need your credit card information altogether. Don’t give this information away.
- Regularly check your online bank account and credit card statements. Online bank accounts don’t only reveal how much are in your checking or savings — they also revealed what transactions you’ve had, and where. This is an important feature to have because they will reveal if someone has stolen your information and where something was purchased. But checking your online banking account isn’t your only saving grace. It’s also important to check your credit card statements because they will reveal how much you owe on your billing statement, and what purchases and payments you’ve made. Checking both will help you determine whether someone has stolen your information and making purchases with your money.
- Keep your PIN to yourself. A PIN — personal identification number — is the number you enter whenever you use a debit or credit card for financial transactions. Think of your PIN number as the final key to verifying a purchase. If someone has stolen your card, but doesn’t know your PIN, it’s likely that he or she won’t be able to complete the purchase. Never share your PIN with anyone. Sharing it with the wrong person could result in you being scammed.
- Report any suspicious or unfamiliar transactions to your banking institution. If you notice a suspicious charge on your credit card statement or your bank account, immediately call your bank. Explain to the teller what you believed happened, and what transaction you are referring. The bank will be able to help you from there.
How to report Medicare fraud
If you notice any suspicious transactions, and you’ve already notified your banking institution, there’s still one more thing you need to do: report the scam to Medicare by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). If you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan, call the Medicare Drug Integrity Contractor at 1-877-7SAFERX (1-877-772-3379). On the other line will be a Medicare representative who is waiting to help report the crime. This will prevent countless of others from being scammed the same way in which you were or could have been. It’s also important to contact Medicare even if you didn’t fall for the scam that was pitched to you. Just because you understood what it was doesn’t mean someone else won’t fall for it.
Falling victim to a scam is terrifying, frustrating, annoying and humiliating. But you don’t have to be a victim. Read every email you get to make sure it’s legitimate. Talk to someone you can trust if you’re unsure about the credibility of whoever called you. Make no immediate actions.
But, if you’re still worried about who you can trust, let The Best Senior Services help you. We pride ourselves on educating seniors while connecting them with the best agent that will help you protect yourself and choose the best Medicare plan. Visit our website or calls us at 855.979.8277 to get started today.