How Seniors Can Protect Themselves Against Medicare Fraud in 2024

With technology advancing and fraudulent tactics becoming more sophisticated, seniors can protect themselves by staying aware of scamming trends targeting Medicare recipients. 

Scammers are continuously evolving their ways to obtain personal information from seniors, leaving their victims financially drained and emotionally distraught. 

However, with heightened awareness and vigilance–many of these situations can be avoided. 


Here are some of the Medicare fraud trends being reported in 2024, along with steps you can take to protect yourself or your loved ones:



Medicare Fraud Trends Being Reported in 2024

 

Illegitimate Prescription Drug Plan Offerings

Prescription drug scams continue to target seniors by offering discounted or free pharmaceutical plans in exchange for their sensitive information to “enroll”.

Seniors may receive unsolicited calls, letters, or emails promoting these fraudulent prescription drug plan offers. Many of them mention additional incentives such as prizes or money in return for joining the prescription drug plan. These solicitations are designed to look like they are coming from government agencies and may also threaten loss of Medicare benefits if action is not taken. 

Medicare does not require members to have a prescription drug plan or contact seniors requesting sensitive information to enroll. Always be cautious of offers specifically when they are “discounted/free” and verify with Medicare or your selected insurance provider if there is any question of legitimacy. 

Additionally, if you receive a call from someone claiming to be from Medicare and threatening your current drug benefits–hang up the phone, and contact Medicare directly at 1-800-MEDICARE or at https://www.medicare.gov/



COVID-19 Vaccine Fraud

 The COVID-19 pandemic has created opportunities for scammers to develop new tactics for obtaining sensitive information from seniors. 

Scammers may pose as healthcare providers or government officials, offering early access to COVID-19 vaccines or booster shots in exchange for Medicare information or payment. 

These fraudulent schemes not only jeopardize seniors’ financial security but also undermine public health efforts.

Medicare Recipients should only receive COVID-19 vaccines from authorized healthcare providers or vaccination sites. Never share your Medicare information or payment details with unknown individuals offering vaccines.



Telemedicine Fraud 

With the rise of telemedicine, scammers are exploiting this convenient healthcare option to perpetrate fraud. 

Seniors may receive unsolicited calls or emails offering free telehealth consultations or medical devices covered by Medicare. 

These scammers may attempt to obtain seniors’ Medicare information for fraudulent billing purposes or to steal their identity.

Medicare recipients should only engage with telemedicine providers recommended by their trusted healthcare professionals or insurance company. Never provide personal information to unverified providers. 



Genetic Testing Scams

Genetic testing scams have become increasingly prevalent in recent years. Scammers are now targeting seniors by offering free genetic testing kits purportedly covered by Medicare. 

These tests may claim to assess the risk of certain diseases or provide personalized healthcare recommendations. 

After obtaining this information through cheek swabs or screenings, scammers can use seniors’ genetic information to submit false Medicare claims or engage in identity theft.

Seniors should reserve these conversations and concerns for appointments with their trusted medical service providers. 



Open Enrollment Scams

Medicare recipients receive an abundance of solicitations prior to and during the Annual Open Enrollment period each year (October 15 – December 7). 

It is important to stay vigilant during this time for fake Medicare communications offering plan enrollment assistance, appointment scheduling help, or obtaining updated Medicare plan cards

Medicare recipients can contact trusted health insurance agents who can answer all questions pertaining to their healthcare needs and plan selections. Working with an agent will eliminate the worry of sharing sensitive information with an untrustworthy source. 

Seniors can also utilize trusted government regulated websites for materials and information.



Popular Scamming Tactics Used to Initiate These Crimes

 

Cold Calls/Unsolicited Emails

While it may seem like a simple concept to avoid giving sensitive information to unknown callers, the advances in technology make fraudulent solicitations seem more legitimate than ever. 

Scammers often impersonate insurance agents or healthcare professionals in convincing ways to obtain personal information from Medicare recipients. 

They may claim there is an issue with the senior’s Medicare coverage and request sensitive details to “resolve” the problem.

Scammers also use public records and databases online (such as auditor websites) to mention familiar keywords and details that further trick the victim into believing they are legitimate. 



Phishing Scams Impersonating Your Current Provider 

Fake websites and emails designed to mimic legitimate Medicare or healthcare portals trick seniors into divulging their personal information. They may incentivize seniors by claiming there is a free/better plan available. There have also been reports of links being sent stating the Medicare recipient recently overpaid for a service and is owed a refund by entering bank account info. 

These scams often appear convincing and may include urgent messages prompting seniors to take action immediately and verify their identity or payment info. 

Always verify that the sender is legitimate regardless of how urgent the message may come across or how familiar the logo/name may appear. 



Stolen Medicare Cards 

Thieves may physically steal Medicare cards or obtain them through other means, such as lost or discarded documents. 

With access to the senior’s Medicare ID number, scammers can fraudulently bill Medicare for services or even obtain medical treatment using the victim’s identity.

Medicare recipients should treat their Medicare card as if it were a credit card. The moment it is noticed as lost or stolen, contact Medicare and report the missing card by either reporting online or calling Medicare directly at 1-800-633-4227.



Protecting Yourself From These Fraudulent Threats 

 

Protect Your Information

Safeguarding your sensitive information at home, whether in a filing cabinet or on your computer, is an important way to maintain information security and prevent identity fraud.

Always shred outdated documents containing sensitive information and use strong/unique passwords online. 

You can even consider adding two-step authentication for an added layer of security. 

Keep documents such as Medicare ID cards in a safe place and only share the information when necessary like at a doctor’s office or pharmacy.



Review Medicare Statements Regularly

 It is recommended that seniors carefully review their Medicare statements monthly and report suspicious charges or services they believe were not received. 

The more regularly these statements are reviewed, the better the chance of catching something fraudulent. 



Be Cautious of All Phone Calls/Emails Received 

 It is important to note Medicare or your Medicare plan provider will never call you to sell anything, come to your home with solicitations or offers, or enroll you over the phone unless you’ve requested a call. 

They will also never call you unexpectedly and request any sort of sensitive information. 

Remember that you call Medicare, Medicare never calls you.

Always exercise extreme caution if you are unsure the contact is legitimate, and if you are not comfortable with the questions being asked, do not engage. 

Hang up on suspicious callers and do not interact with unfamiliar emails. You can call Medicare or your current insurance provider directly to verify legitimacy if you are unsure whether or not the communication is coming from them. 



Stay Informed & Report Suspicious Activity

Stay informed about popular scamming tactics on the rise by subscribing to alerts and newsletters from medicare.gov

You can also discuss your concerns with your trusted Medical provider. 

Be sure to report any suspicious activity, whether on your Medicare billing statements or strange calls/emails, to the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) either online or by calling 800-488-6070.



Conclusion

Medicare fraud poses a significant threat to seniors’ financial security and overall well-being. 

Seniors can help prevent fraud from happening to them by being vigilant and proactive. 

It is important to safeguard sensitive information at home, be skeptical of unsolicited offers and continuously stay aware of the rising trends for fraudulent crimes targeting Medicare recipients.

Always report suspicious activity to Medicare and/or local law enforcement. 

My Medicare Network, a nongovernmental entity, is here to help you identify the best-fit Medicare plan for you, as well help you answer any Medicare-specific questions. 

Fill out the contact form below to reach one of our licensed agents. 

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