Worry over Healthcare Leaves Elderly Vulnerable to Medicare Scams
Scammers are now targeting the elderly, a population who are increasingly concerned over their health care, especially considering the Affordable Care Act’s ensuing changes. A Medicare-card-related scam has left a trail of elderly victims across at least 15 states, including Michigan, West Virginia, Tennessee, Illinois, New Jersey and California.
Individuals fall prey to such a scam after receiving a phone call informing them of the need to verify information in order to receive a new Medicare card. Despite being warned to never give out personal information over the phone, when the caller on the other end of the line seems legitimate, it is hard to pick out a fraudulent call.
“Medicare is my lifeline,” says Bessie Bell, 72, just one of many senior citizens who has received a fraudulent call within the last year.
When fraudulent callers pick up on these worries and focus on current issues such as Medicare changes and the cost of prescription drugs, it is easy for concerned individuals to believe the newest pitch. Lately, Medicare beneficiaries are being told they must verify their account information by giving out their bank account or Social Security numbers in order to receive a new Medicare card. Others have been lured into believing in a new, “Preferred Medicare” card that would somehow be used alongside the current card.
The public is concerned with how to spot the scammers as they grow more convincing. Before giving out any personal information, individuals are warned to stop and think: would the government call each individual if changes were made to the Medicare program? Senior citizens have been advised to first call their doctor, the drugstore, or the AARP before taking any action. While a call may seem legitimate, it is important to remember that bank routing numbers are public information, and while a caller’s knowledge of such information may make the call seem more legitimate, it is better to be safe than sorry.
While this Medicare-card-related scam may be one of the newer fraudulent schemes occurring across the nation, these scammers are not alone. Just last year, millions were called to verify their personal information in order to receive diabetic test strips; fraudulent online pharmacies lure in many each year by offering prescription drugs at prices too good to be true.
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