Telemarketers claiming to work with Medicare are illegally soliciting beneficiaries by offering free back braces, knee braces, and DNA testing kits. In addition to phone calls, solicitation is also happening through television ads, postcards and, in some cases, printed advertisement.
Throughout the state several Medicare beneficiaries have reported telemarketers calling multiple times a day, day after day, saying they can help with their pain. In some cases, telemarketers have used bullying-like behavior by raising their voice and speaking rudely to the beneficiary in an attempt to pressure them into releasing their Medicare number.
Once they obtain the beneficiary’s Medicare number, the scammers bill Medicare, making money off the sale. Some beneficiaries unknowingly say “yes” while on the call and are mailed items they never agreed to. Beneficiaries may be responsible for the copayment of these items.
With scammers often mimicking local or familiar numbers, how can a beneficiary protect themselves against the back brace scam?
How to mitigate Medicare fraud:
- Only answer the phone if it’s a caller that you know.
- If you do answer the phone and it’s a solicitor, hang up. If it’s a postcard or email, discard it.
- Turn off or disregard TV ads offering free back or knee braces.
- If you do talk to the solicitor, tell them you’re going to report them for Medicare fraud and you’d like to be removed from their list.
- Never give out your Medicare card number, Social Security number, birth date, bank account info, or credit card number to an unknown party. This goes for over the phone, email, or social media.
- Always double check your Medicare statement for errors.
- Report instances of fraud to your local Senior Medicare Patrol Office (SMP).
If you are in need of a back or knee brace, or any medical device, see your doctor get one prescribed to you. That way, it can be processed correctly through your Medicare or other insurance plans.
Even when all the precautionary steps have been taken, Medicare beneficiaries may find that they have been a victim of Medicare-related fraud. If that does happen, here are some steps that you can take to aid in the investigation:
What to do if you are a victim of Medicare Fraud:
- Call your local SMP office to report the case of fraud.
- Record any related information like phone numbers, people you spoke with and how often they contacted you.
- If you receive a package you did not order do not open it. Write “return to sender” and bring it back to the company that delivered it like the United States Postal Office, UPS or FedEx.
- Contact your telephone company provider to talk to them about ways to block unwanted calls.
If you or someone you know has been affected by this scam, have them call ServiceLink at (603) 752-6407 or toll-free at 1-866-634-9412 and ask to speak with someone from the Senior Medicare Patrol.
ServiceLink of Coos County is located at 610 Sullivan Street in Berlin. They are open from Monday to Friday from 8 am to 4 pm, and no appointment is needed.
The Coös County ServiceLink Resource Center is located at 610 Sullivan St. in Berlin and open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information or to schedule an appointment at the Berlin office, call (603) 752-6407.
Coös County Aging & Disability Resource Counseling at ServiceLink served more than 4,766 contacts with detailed information about benefits, programs, and resources with over $138,288 in saving to clients in Coös County. That included 675 Medicare and 614 Medicaid contacts, where our highly skilled staff is able to help people navigate their way through the confusing decisions about benefits and eligibility, in order to make the best decisions possible for themselves.
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