It’s a normal Tuesday afternoon and you are sitting at home. Maybe you are doing household chores. Maybe you are reading a book. Then, the phone rings, and the caller says they are an employee of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The caller lets you know that there are new updates to Medicare, and they are issuing new cards. They ask for your Medicare number so you can receive your new card.
If this happens to you, it should definitely raise a red flag. Why? This person is definitely not an employee of CMS, and they are likely trying to steal your identity. With open enrollment on the horizon, it’s important to be aware of Medicare fraud. With the help of CMS, we’d like to share some tips for avoiding Medicare fraud and abuse.
1. Guard your Medicare number and medical information
This is something that CMS stresses, and we’d like to reinforce. CMS says to treat this number the same way that you would treat a credit card number. Only give it to your doctor or provider. The same goes for your medical records. Medicare will never contact you for your Medicare number or other personal information unless you’ve given them permission in advance. If someone calls asking for your Medicare number in return for free items, gifts or services, don’t do it.
2. Identify when someone could be a scammer
If someone calls you at home or comes to your door, remember that Medicare will never contact you without permission, and Medicare cannot enroll you over the phone unless you call first, nor will someone call you to sell you anything. Medicare will also never visit you at home.
3. Don’t get distracted and keep your guard up
Right now, it’s easy to be distracted by what is happening in the world, especially the COVID-19 public health crisis. There have been reports of scammers who are attempting to trick people into revealing sensitive information or donating to fake charities or causes. Don’t be fooled! If something sounds suspicious, be wary and remember to not give away personal information.
What do you do if you are suspicious of Medicare fraud? It’s simple. If you suspect fraud, call CMS at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048.
Our intent in sharing these tips is not to frighten you, but to protect you. We would like to remind our members to remain vigilant and that we’re always here to help. Please contact Member Services at (831) 574-4938, or toll free (855) 570-1600 (TTY: 711).