With Medicare Open Enrollment ending on Dec. 7, the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) are warning seniors to protect themselves and their personal information from potential scams and high-pressure sales tactics.
Fraudsters posing as Medicare “representatives” are calling unsuspecting consumers about their Medicare coverage and asking for Medicare ID numbers or other personal information, such as a Social Security Number or date of birth. Once the scammers have this information, they can use it to make unauthorized changes to the senior’s Medicare plan.
“Every year as Medicare open enrollment ends, unscrupulous actors try to take advantage of the pressing deadline to target our seniors,” said DIFS Director Anita Fox. “It is important that Medicare participants protect themselves by not giving out personal information to anyone who tries to solicit their business over the phone, online, or at their front door.”
DIFS and MDHHS have some important tips for protecting yourself:
- Never give your Medicare number or other personal information to an unknown caller. You are always able to get information on Medicare plans without providing an ID number. The only time the Medicare ID number is required is when you are actually enrolling in a plan.
- Do not give out your personal information if someone calls or visits your home and says they’re from Medicare. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will never call or send someone to your home to ask for personal information or check your Medicare number.
- Don’t trust caller ID. Scammers use technology to make it look like they are calling from a legitimate business or government agency.
- Ignore anyone who calls saying you must join their prescription drug plan or you will lose your Medicare coverage. While it is true that there may be a penalty if you delay enrolling in the Medicare prescription drug plan (also known as Part D), that coverage is voluntary.
- Don’t trust mailers that appear to be government communications but are advertisements for private companies. These mailers will sometimes have a disclaimer, but it is buried in small print.
If you have questions or concerns about your Medicare coverage, DIFS and MDHHS urge you to contact Medicare directly at Medicare.gov or by calling 800-633-4227.
Insurance fraud, including Medicare fraud, results in higher health care costs for participants and taxpayers alike. That is why it’s so important to know how to protect your Medicare card and number. If you or a loved one has experienced this type of scam or high-pressure tactic, contact DIFS at Michigan.gov/DIFSComplaints or by calling 877-999-6442 to file a complaint.
The mission of the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services is to ensure access to safe and secure insurance and financial services fundamental for the opportunity, security, and success of Michigan residents, while fostering economic growth and sustainability in both industries. In addition, the Department provides consumer protection, outreach, and financial literacy and education services to Michigan residents. For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/difs or follow the Department on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.