By Barry Klitsberg, Nassau County Medicare Counselor, FCA
Many seniors receive phone calls from scammers who are posing as Medicare or Social Security personnel.
These persuasive callers will offer any number of temptations to earn your trust and whet your appetite such as free merchandise including back braces, sweaters, and wheelchairs. They’ll say, “all I need is your Medicare number.”
If you’ve gotten this far, stop right there. NEVER give your Medicare or any other identifying information to anyone you don’t know, whether by phone call, text or email.
Please ignore these callers and hang up, whatever they are offering you. You should only get medical devices or treatments from your own doctor or health care provider. These scammers have no idea about your health conditions and what you may or may not need, but may lead you on to obtain your personal information.
If you do place an order with one of these random callers, oftentimes you will receive an off-the-shelf piece of equipment; a foam neck brace, for example, yet Medicare will be billed for a custom-designed piece of equipment such as your doctor might recommend.
In addition to potentially damaging your health, this transaction has the potential to damage your wallet. If Medicare has paid for an expensive item under false pretenses, and you need one down the road, Medicare will not pay again, an expensive potential risk.
Medicare sends a Medicare Summary Notice to beneficiaries every three months. It is important to examine these notices to make sure that the services that Medicare has paid for were actually ordered and received by you.
If you have any questions about the services Medicare paid for, you can call Medicare at 1-800-Medicare and they can give you more details about the service and provider.
Medicare pays out about $60 billion a year due to fraud, abuse and waste. We all pay a price for Medicare fraud, either directly or indirectly. It is up to all of us to protect the Medicare program by being a careful consumer.
A critical part of your role is to remember to always treat your health insurance card like a credit card and protect it.
Barry Klitsberg is an Assistant Health Insurance Information Counseling and Assistance Coordinator at FCA in Garden City.