Scammers targeting senior citizens in Michigan
BERRIEN COUNTY, Mi. — Senior citizens are being warned of Medicare scammers asking them for personal information ahead of the open enrollment period deadline, which ends Monday, Dec. 7.
“Sometimes they’ll give you a number and say is that your social security number, no, oh I must’ve had it down wrong, what's your social security number, they’ll use all kinds of little tricks to get you to say it, never give out that information,” said Anita Fox, the director of the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services.
Scammers have become tech-savvy, disguising their real numbers, and instead of showing a number that looks like it is coming from a local area. Sometimes, scammers will send a letter claiming they are with the government or insurance company.
Fraudsters will ask questions so you can verify your social security numbers, medicare plan, and other personal information. Once they have your information, they can make their own changes to your Medicare plans or use your personal information for identity theft.
“If they say, it’s expiring, and you need to do something or if you don’t you haven’t bought part D, which is the prescription drug plan, so if you don’t do that today, your Medicare will expire, which isn’t true, part D prescription drug coverage is a voluntary coverage that a senior can choose or not choose, So those are the kind of things the fraudsters try and make you think you have to do something,” Fox said.
Fox said always assume anyone calling and asking for personal information is a scammer. Officials will only ask for information when the individual makes the first initial contact.
“If you initiate the contact, you know you’re going through the right channels, and people who call you and want your personal information are usually committing fraud,” Fox said.
If an unknown caller asks to verify information over the phone, Fox said to ask them for a call back number and see if it matches the number on the back of your card. She also said it is important to verify your own information, initiate contact yourself, and never give out personal information over the phone. If you have already fallen victim to these scams, it is important to report the scam to the police, insurance company, and credit card company.
“Explain what happened and see if they’ll help walk you through it. If you can’t get relief or you don’t know what to do about your insurance, again, contact us we will walk you through it,” Fox said.
These scams targeting seniors does not only apply to the Medicare open enrollment but also the upcoming open enrollment for the ACA Affordable Care Act, the deadline for that is Dec. 15.
If you need more information you can go to Michigan.gov/HealthInsurance or call at (877) 999-6442