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Security & privacy

Medicare sign-up is open – And phone scams are out of control

Healthcare has become an essential part of life, especially when the pandemic is still around. Cases might be dropping as more people get vaccinated, but there are other health advantages to having medical coverage. Tap or click here for Kim’s heart-healthy tip: A new way to boost your energy.

Around this time of year, people who are enrolled in Medicare plans can evaluate their coverage. Known as open enrollment, you can decide if you need more coverage or less or want to add something to your existing plan. And those who are newly eligible can also enroll.

With open enrollment being so popular, scammers are already out in full force. While healthcare scams run throughout the year, the October to December period traditionally sees a spike in scam activity. Don’t forget to share this article with friends and family who are eligible for Medicare to keep them protected.

Here’s the backstory

There are several ways in which scammers will try to trick you out of money or personal information. The AARP highlighted some of the popular methods that are being used:

  • You might get a phone call from someone claiming to represent Medicare. They’ll tell you that your Medicare number and credit card information is needed to sign you up for health coverage.
  • A scammer could phone and ask you to confirm your banking details or billing address.
  • Several scams have also used the ruse that they need your Medicare number to update your account.

A more serious scam is when they call a Medicare beneficiary to tell them they are owed a refund. The call has potentially the biggest data payoff for a scammer, as they will often try to obtain your birth date, Social Security number, bank account and Medicare numbers.

What you can do about it

Open enrollment scammers try stealing your personal information or getting your banking details. Here’s how you can protect yourself from health insurance phone scams:

  • Medicare will never phone you to sign up for plans or additional coverage. If someone claims to be from Medicare, it could be part of a scam.
  • Enrolling in a Part D prescription drug plan is optional. Don’t fall for a trick where scammers claim that you’ll lose Medicare coverage if you don’t.
  • AARP explains that Medicare staff would never cold call you and cannot ask for payment information over the phone or online.
  • Never give your personal information like Medicare number, banking details or Social Security number to anybody you don’t trust.

If you are unsure about your plan, recent contact, or have questions, you can call the Medicare hotline at 800-Medicare (800-633-4227). There is also the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360 for any questions.

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