Monday, August 14, 2017

Denver DA News Alert - Medicare Scams

Medicare Scams Heating Up

Medicare Impostors Scaring Elders into Paying for Coverage

The indefinite future of health care coverage is being exploited by Medicare and Medicaid impostors who are calling older beneficiaries and threatening to cancel benefits if they don't pay to renew their health insurance cards.  In some instances, the offenders also demand personal information, such as Social Security numbers or financial accounts for the purpose of committing Identity theft.   Although these scams are more common during Medicare's open enrollment period which takes place in the fall, offenders often ply their trade whenever there is a national event or uncertainty that could threaten the quality of life of particular vulnerable individuals.  Among other unsavory characteristics, these con artists are particularly adept at using consumers' anxieties to rip them off.  Expect this trend to continue, but don't take the bait! Never give out Medicare or bank account numbers over the phone unless you initiate the call, such as to replace a lost or stolen card.        

Facts about Medicare
  • Medicare does not charge to get a new card.
  • Medicare will never call to verify a consumer's account number, or to promote a Medicare product or service.
  • OF SPECIAL NOTE: Medicare accounts and Social Security numbers are one and the same, which puts recipients at risk of identity theft.  Beginning April, 2018, SSN's are scheduled to be removed from Medicare cards and will be replaced with a randomly selected account number.  
Be wary of any unexpected calls from "Medicare," even if it is not regarding this particular scam, another one may be waiting in the wings.  Remember don't give out any personal information to someone calling you.  If you are unsure of the legitimacy, hang up and call Medicare directly.  
If you receive a suspicious call, record the number on your caller ID and report it to Senior Medicare Patrol Colorado at 1-800-503-5190, or the Office of Inspector General at 1-800-447-8477 or

Local Secret Shopper Scam
Who doesn't want to make a few extra dollars?  There are a number of legitimate businesses that pay consumers to be secret shoppers.  But the legitimate ones don't:
- Sign you up to be a secret shopper without you initiating interest.
- Ask you to "secret shop" money grams.
- Send you a check, (unsolicited) for far more than the contracted fee of service. 
A local insurance company found that they were being victimized as part of this scam.  The check that accompanied the secret shopper letter, looks legitimate.  After all, there is a routing number, the company's name and address on the top.  But scammers can make almost anything look real. If you come across this "offer" ask yourself:
- Did I sign up to be a secret shopper?
- Does it make sense that the check would be from a local insurance company? 
- Why would a local insurance company be paying a secret shopper to test money grams at Walmart?  
- And, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  

As with any scam, it's easy to spot when you aren't staring at a potential windfall.  It's important to always ask yourself, does this make sense, before depositing a check.  

If you suspect you've been scammed or exploited, report it to our Fraud Hot Line.

Interested in learning more about scams happening in Denver? Do you want to know how to protect yourself from identity theft? Maro Casparian is available for speaking engagements to any group or organization. Contact her by email: or via phone: 720.913.9036. 

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