Better Business Bureau Addresses High Scam Risk During Medicare Sign-Up Time
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) (bbb.com) is addressing the high risk of scams during the annual open-enrollment period for Medicare, which began on October 15 and runs through December 7. Crooks have been making calls to older Americans in which they claim to be a government representative—a “health care benefits advocate”—who can help navigate the Medicare sign-up process. Some are lying about being able to sign folks up to get the same coverage from a better program for less money.
Scammers will tell people that they need to provide personal information, like a Medicare ID number, to start the process, but once that information is provided, crooks are enabled to scam the Medicare system out of big bucks. Such scams hurt the funding of Medicare to the tune of millions of dollars annually, which is another way they hurt all taxpayers. Scam victims end up paying twice: directly from their accounts and indirectly from the taxes paid to help Medicare recover the money lost to fraud.
The BBB recommends not trusting anyone calling you to assist with Medicare. Unless you are already enrolled, Medicare representatives will not call you, email, or text. Don’t trust anyone offering a “free gift,” a health screening, or special deal. If you want to check on the legitimacy of a call, hang up and go to the official website, Medicare.gov.
If you have been scammed or even just received a call from a suspected scammer, visit the Better Business Bureau website at BBB.org/scamtracker and report the incident. It should also be reported to Medicare by calling (800) 633-4227.