Medicare scam season strikes state, seniors

An agency designed to help protect seniors from scams and fraud has announced that one of the latest methods involves something seniors trust – Medicare.

Staff Report

There are several scams currently being used in the state related to Medicare.

One is that Medicare is requiring genetic/DNA testing for cancer research. The kit includes a card people are supposed to sign which gives permission for the digital transfer of that signature to any forms that relate to specific tests ordered as a supplement to the original test.

For testing to be reimbursed, Medicare or insurance must determine that it was medically necessary.

That means the Medicare beneficiary might be left with huge bills to pay.

Recently, the North Dakota State Medicare Patrol announced that seniors in the state have been the target of a new scam designed to get people to divulge their personal Medicare information.

According to the NDSMP, one caller was so persistent they called four times. For three of the calls, the target hung up without giving any personal information.

On the fourth attempt, the caller said “Please don’t hang up this is Medicare calling and I need to talk to you.”

The caller said they were calling from Medicare and encouraged the beneficiary to call the number showing on Caller ID. The beneficiary called the number and “verified” that it was really Medicare’s number.

The “Medicare caller” then told the person that they were sending out “free” back, neck and knee braces to the person’s mailing address.

According to  the NDSMP, there are several things that people can do to avoid being victimized by the  Medicare fraud.

Durable Medical Equipment supplies furnished to Medicare recipients must be necessary for medical treatment and ordered by a physician, the senior organization explained.

In addition, people should remember nothing is ever free, whether it is braces or other medical supplies.

Most of all, they recommend people keep all their personal (Medicare, Social Security and bank account) numbers secret.

If people do get a phone call asking for private information or money, they should call the North Dakota Senior Medicare Patrol (800-233-1737 or 701-858-3580) or call 1-800-MEDICARE.

In addition, there are scammers who target people on Medicare with diabetes.

The caller pretends to be from Medicare or a diabetes organization and offering free diabetic supplies likemeters, testing strips or lancets.

The NDSMP recommends people make sure they do not give out any personal information and report the call as quickly as possible.

In addition, the “free” items will be billed to Medicare, so people need to consistently check their Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) and see if any items were charged that you did not order or did not receive.

If people find something suspicious, they need to report it to their healthcare provider and the NDSMP.

They can refuse delivery or return to sender. In addition, people are advised to keep a record of the sender’s name and the date you returned the items.

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