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Fraud Alerts for Older Adults

The 4 Rs: Record, Review, Report and Remember

For this month’s Fraud Fact, the Missouri Medicare Patrol would like to review what some call the four Rs of Medicare. Keeping these tips in mind could help protect you against Medicare fraud and abuse. The SMP team wants you to RECORD, REVIEW, REPORT and REMEMBER.

First of all, RECORD all medical appointments, tests or other services you receive on a calendar or journal. Save statements and receipts. Don’t be shy about asking a friend or relative to help as needed. The SMP has personal health care journals available to help with this task. Call 888-515-6565 to request one.

Secondly, REVIEW your Medicare Summary Notice or your Explanation of Benefits. Compare these documents to the bills and the dates you have recorded.

The third R is REPORT. When you see something that you think is fishy, REPORT it to us at the Missouri SMP. Don’t always believe ads and phone calls offering discounts and free gifts. And, never give out Medicare numbers or personal information to someone who calls you. Medicare will not call you and ask for such information.

Lastly, REMEMBER to keep your Medicare number in a safe place. Don’t let anyone else have it, and don’t carry it around unless you are on your way to the doctor’s office.

If you suspect you are the victim of Medicare fraud or abuse, call the Missouri SMP – the Senior Medicare Patrol – at 888-515-6565. SMPs are funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living, Administration on Aging.

Avoid unwanted sales pitches

The Missouri Senior Medicare Patrol wants consumers to be on the lookout for mailings that are seeking to suck them into a sales pitch that they may not want. Medicare regulations are strict about who can make unsolicited sales calls to a home. That’s why many medical sales companies use “snail mail” to make the initial contact. The mailings are designed to mimic U.S. government or Medicare mailings and look official. Often consumers are asked to return a postcard to receive more information about an offer for insurance, supplies or equipment. Some people return the postcard, thinking they will get details in a second mailing. Instead, the company uses the postcard as permission to call on the phone or make a home visit. Sending the postcard essentially gives them the permission they need – whether or not that’s what the consumer meant to do. <\h2>
What should you do if you receive such a letter? The easiest thing to do is to shred it. Never give your Medicare card number or other personal information to a caller or on a postcard reply. If you need supplies or equipment, check with your doctor. Then, you can shop for the best prices for products covered by Medicare or your specific Medicare Advantage plan under your own terms. If a deal seems too good to be true, it most likely is. If a company is trying to sell you something that your doctor has not prescribed or ordered, that should raise a red flag. And, if you want to find out about a Medicare supplement or Medicare Advantage plan offer, you should call the insurance company rather than the other way around.

People who suspect they are the victim of Medicare fraud or abuse should call the Missouri Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) at 888-515-6565. SMPs are funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living, Administration on Aging.

Medicare card changes may encourage scams

Most people know that their Medicare card number is also their Social Security number. The federal government has decided to change the practice of putting Social Security numbers on Medicare cards. A new law requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to issue new Medicare cards that don’t display, code, or embed Social Security numbers. The change is to lessen the risk for identification theft.

This change will not happen overnight, however. The law gives the government four years to issue the modernized cards to new beneficiaries, and four more years to issue the new cards to existing beneficiaries.

Scam artists may take advantage of this change to call and tell you they are helping with the change, so be aware. Medicare and Social Security will NOT call and ask for your numbers. Be on guard if someone calls you to tell you they are re-processing cards, issuing new cards or assigning new numbers.

Never give your personal information out over the phone. We strongly encourage you to verify the legitimacy of text messages, emails or phone calls from people who say they are with Social Security. Please contact your local Social Security office or the Social Security’s nationwide toll-free customer service at 800-772-1213. You may also contact the Missouri Senior Medicare Patrol at 888-515-6565 to report suspected fraud or abuse.