August 13, 2019
Evey Bell Owen, AARP Alabama, Interim Associate State Director of Communications
Surge in Government Imposter Scams Targets Medicare Recipients
With Government Imposter Scams skyrocketing in recent months, AARP Alabama Seeks to Empower Alabamians with These Simple Tips
(MONTGOMERY, AL) – Government Imposter Scams are surging according to the Federal Trade Commission – increasing by 97% in quarter 2 of this year from quarter 2 of 2018. Alabamians have been especially targeted by the Medicare Scam which ranks as the number two most common government imposter scam type.
Medicare scams typically involve rogue health care providers or medical suppliers who bill the program for services, equipment or medication that they don’t actually provide, or else inflate the cost of those items.
The scams have historically involved durable medical equipment, like back braces, wheel chairs and the like. But lately, scammers are pulling off a new scam – saying Medicare will pay for DNA testing. A telemarketer may tout “free” DNA testing to screen for cancer or to learn how your body may respond to certain medications. As with the medical equipment scam, all you need to do is share your Medicare number.
“These scams aren’t only financially costly for individuals, they can also threaten your future medical coverage,” Evey Owen, Interim Associate State Director of Communications for AARP Alabama, explains. “If shady operators obtain your Medicare number and bill the program for phony prescriptions or unnecessary medical equipment, you could be denied coverage later for drugs or devices you genuinely need.”
While consumers should continually stay vigilant to guard against falling victim to scams, there are simple steps you can take to protect yourself from Medicare scams:
- Hang up immediately if you get an unsolicited call from someone who claims to be from Medicare and asks for personal information. Medicare employees will never call you without being invited to do so by you.
- Review your Medicare Summary Notices (MSN) or Explanation of Benefits (EOB) when they arrive. Look for services, procedures or devices you don’t recognize - if you see something on the statement that doesn’t look right, report it to Medicare’s toll-free number 800-633-4227.
- Never share your Medicare or Social Security number with anyone other than your trusted providers, doctors, or pharmacists.
- Report all scam calls to the Federal Trade Commission at www.FTCcomplaintAssistant.gov or your state attorney general’s office.
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.
AARP Alabama: www.aarp.org/al | Twitter: @aarpal | Facebook: @alabama.aarp
About AARP Fraud Watch Network
The AARP Fraud Watch Network launched in 2013 as a free resource for people of all ages. Consumers may sign up for “Watchdog Alert” emails that deliver information about scams, or call a free helpline at 877-908-3360 to speak with volunteers trained in fraud counseling. The Fraud Watch Network website provides information about fraud and scams, prevention tips from experts, an interactive scam-tracking map, fun educational quizzes, and video presentations featuring Fraud Watch Network Ambassador Frank Abagnale.