(BPT) - Every year, many seniors are targeted by scammers who want to steal their Medicare numbers to do things like rack up fake health care charges and commit identity theft. These scams hurt seniors and other people eligible for Medicare, cost taxpayers money, and result in higher health care costs for everyone. The good news is that you can protect yourself from fraud and help Medicare stop scammers in their tracks.
How to Spot Medicare Fraud
The first step in protecting yourself from Medicare fraud is knowing how to spot it. Over time, scammers have become very sophisticated and advanced. One of the latest scams you should look out for concerns genetic testing. Scammers are offering “free” genetic tests and claiming Medicare will cover it — so they can get your Medicare number and use it to commit fraud and identity theft. Other Medicare scams include offers for free or reduced-price medical equipment, consultations, or health services. These scams can happen anywhere, including through telemarketing calls, health fairs, and even knocking on doors.
Last year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) removed Social Security numbers from all Medicare cards. Even with this change, people with Medicare should still guard their Medicare card and treat it like a credit card, check Medicare claims summary forms for errors, and be wary of any unsolicited requests for your Medicare number. Medicare will never call beneficiaries to ask for or check Medicare numbers.
To protect yourself from Medicare fraud, keep these things to “do” and “don’t do” in mind:
Reporting Medicare Fraud
If you think you may have spotted fraud, you should report it right away. No matter how minimal the information you share is, it could be the missing piece to stopping the next fraud scheme. If you are a victim of fraud, know that you won’t be penalized or lose your coverage for reporting it. Even if you are not a victim, it’s important to report any fraud scams you encounter to Medicare. Report suspected fraud by calling 1-800-MEDICARE or online through the Office of the Inspector General.
Information provided by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
Over the past few years, DNA tests have become more popular across the country. However, unscrupulous people are taking advantage of the buzz around these tests to scam Medicare beneficiaries. To avoid being scammed, consider this advice.
Beware of ‘Free Genetic Testing’ Medicare Scam
(Family Features) Over the past few years, DNA tests have become more popular across the country. However, unscrupulous people are taking advantage of the buzz around these tests to scam Medicare beneficiaries.
Scammers target Medicare beneficiaries through telemarketing calls, booths at public events, health fairs and door-to-door visits. They offer “free” genetic testing to help recipients avoid diseases or find the right medications.
The scammers claim the testing is covered by Medicare, and therefore is free to the beneficiary. In reality, Medicare only covers genetic testing in limited situations, and only when ordered by the beneficiary’s physician. If a company bills Medicare for genetic testing, and Medicare denies the claim, the beneficiary could be responsible for the entire cost of the test, which can total around $10,000.
In other cases, the scammers are simply trying to obtain Medicare numbers they can use to steal a beneficiary’s medical identity or to fraudulently bill Medicare for services they did not provide. Such fraud can hurt not just Medicare beneficiaries, but all American taxpayers who contribute to Medicare.
To avoid being scammed, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) offers this advice to beneficiaries:
If you received a cheek swab or screening that was not ordered by a trusted provider or have concerns about billing errors or possible fraud, contact your local Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP). The SMP program, funded by ACL, helps Medicare beneficiaries protect themselves from fraud, errors and abuse, and detect and report problems if and when they occur. To find your local SMP, visit smpresource.org or call 1-877-808-2468.
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Administration for Community Living
Every day, Medicare fraud affects people with Medicare and their families across the U.S. – regardless of background – robbing them of hard-earned money and peace of mind. By remembering some simple but effective tips, you can protect yourself against scams, including identity theft and prescription drug fraud.
3 Steps to Protect Yourself from Medicare Fraud
Scammers know the ins and outs of the Medicare system and their attempts can be well thought-out enough that it’s not always easy to know when and where fraud is occurring. By remembering some simple but effective tips, you can protect yourself against scams, including identity theft and prescription drug fraud. Remembering to protect, detect and report fraud helps everyone, including you.
Protecting your personal information is your best line of defense against health care fraud. Treat Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security numbers like credit card numbers. Never give them to a stranger and don’t carry your cards unless you need them for appointments. Medicare doesn’t call or visit to sell you anything. Outside of a trusted health care setting, never give this information to anyone who asks for it.
No matter how careful you are, you may be targeted for fraud. Always review your Medicare statements closely. Things to look for include charges for something you didn’t purchase or receive, duplicate charges and charges for services not ordered by your doctor. Compare these documents to your personal records and receipts. Recording medical visits and procedures in a journal or on a calendar can help you keep track of what happened at each appointment and make it easier to spot inaccuracies.
If you suspect you’ve been a target of fraud, report it. This can help you and others at risk for fraud. If you have questions about your Medicare statements, call your health care provider.
If you’re uncomfortable calling or are not satisfied with the response, help is available through your local Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP). SMP volunteers work with Medicare beneficiaries and their families and caregivers to stop health care fraud, errors and abuse. You can also report suspicious calls and direct general questions through this resource. You can find your local SMP program by calling 1-877-808-2468 or at SMPresource.org.
Suspected fraud can also be reported to 1-800-Medicare or by calling 1-800-HHS-TIPS.
Don’t hesitate if you need help
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
Administration for Community Living
(BPT) - From identity theft to home burglary, it's an unfortunate fact that senior citizens are often a target for criminals. By taking simple security measures while at home and out traveling, you can dramatically reduce the likelihood you or a loved one is victimized.
Always lock doors: Whether you're in a home or an apartment, always keep doors locked. It's a simple yet effective step to keep property and the residents safe, during the day and in the evening.
Secure patio doors: Determined criminals won't stop even though the front door is locked. Use the Master Lock 265DCCSEN Security Door Bar to restrict patio and sliding glass doors from being pried open.
Ask for identification: When service or delivery people come to the door, ask for ID. If you still feel uneasy, get a number to reschedule the visit and then call the company directly to confirm the employee's status.
Secure small valuables: Whether home or away, use a light portable safe. The Master Lock 5900D SafeSpace Portable Personal Safe keeps cash, documents, electronics and small valuables safe, plus the cable can be wrapped around a fixed object or serve as a carrying handle.
Vary routine while home: While home, try to vary the routine periodically. Criminals track when you come and go, so if it's obvious you're always gone during certain times, your home can easily be targeted.
Maintain routine while gone: If traveling, make it seem like someone is home. If you can't get a house sitter, make sure to stop the newspaper and mail delivery and have a neighbor bring your trash in on the appropriate days.
Keep keys close: Skip the obvious doormat or planter and instead store spare keys and access cards securely by using a Master Lock 5422D Push Button Portable Key Safe. Plus, the protective weather cover prevents freezing and jamming.
Travel with less: When traveling, avoid drawing attention by wearing minimal jewelry and carrying only the necessary cash. You'll feel confident and enjoy your trip more when you leave jewelry and other valuables at home.
No need to name: For phone books, organization directories and apartment lobbies, list your first initial rather than your full first name. This can help protect your identification; strangers won't know your full name while friends and relatives will recognize your initial.
With these simple safety measures, senior citizens can feel protected in their homes for years to come.
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