Tips from Our Home Health Care Services Experts to Help You Protect Your Personal Information and Report Suspicious Activity
Medicare scams are an increasingly common way that criminals attempt to collect your personal information. These scammers use a phone technology called “spoofing” so that your phone’s Caller ID says they are calling from Medicare or another potentially familiar phone number.
Don’t fall for their scams, and certainly don’t provide them with any private information to access your medical records held by your doctor, home health care agencies, palliative care providers, or hospice. Don’t share your Medicare number or financial information.
Here’s how to spot a scammer and what you can do to prevent them from stealing information from you, your friends, and your family members.
What Happens During a Medicare Scam Call?
Before they ever dial your phone number, Medicare scammers have done their background research on you.
They likely have accessed your personal information online, and memorized your name, birthday, address, and more. They casually mention this information or ask you to verify it as a way to build your trust and make you believe they’re with your health insurance company.
Now that they have your attention, they’ll tell you a made-up story about how there is an issue with your Medicare coverage that will affect your ability to receive home health care or other services; offer you a special, more affordable plan; tell you that you’re eligible for free medical supplies; or other tactics.
There is no truth in what they tell you. Their goal is to get you to tell them your Medicare and social security numbers or send them money for a service or health plan. Ultimately, they could steal your identity and drain your bank account.
Medicare Will Never Call You to Verify Information
To help avoid scammers, remember that Medicare will never call you or email you unless you have specifically asked them to, through an official request.
If someone calls you and claims they are with Medicare, and you have not asked someone to contact you, it is safe to assume they are a scammer.
If someone calls you from an unknown number and claims they are one of your care providers, always verify their authenticity before offering any information about your insurance or providing details about home health care services or other medical care you receive. Do this by:
- Adding your home health care provider’s or doctor’s office numbers to your cell phone’s contacts using a special code word that will appear on your caller ID when they call you. This ensures you do not fall victim to caller ID manipulation.
- Ask to call the office back in a few minutes; dial the number manually when you do.
What Should You Do If You Receive a Scam Call?
If you believe a Medicare scammer has contacted you, hang up the phone right away. Verify directly with Medicare whether a representative reached out to you. You can do this by contacting them on the Medicare website or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE.
Report the scam call to Medicare through their fraud hotline at 1-800-HHS-TIPS, and share your experience with your friends, so they don’t fall prey to scammers. Keep reading for more information on whether scammers can affect your access to home health care or other medical services.
What If You Answered the Scammer’s Questions?
Depending on the information the scammer asked for, there are several steps you should take to protect your private information. Ask a trusted friend or family member for help, if you are unsure how to use the resources listed below.
If you gave the scammer your financial or personal information, you should:
- Visit IdentityTheft.gov and file an identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission.
- File a police report with your local law enforcement.
- Freeze your credit report to prevent scammers from taking out loans in your name.
- Contact your bank to cancel your accounts and set up new ones.
If you gave the scammer your Medicare number or other insurance information:
- Contact Medicare. Visit their fraud webpage to find contact information for the right department.
- Visit IdentityTheft.gov to file an identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission.
Will Scammers Affect Your Ability to Access Home Health Care and Other Medical Care?
If you give your Medicare number to a scammer, you are still eligible for coverage for medical care through your physician, hospitals, hospices, and home health care agencies.
However, you should still contact Medicare right away if you believe you’ve fallen victim to a scam. The scammer can use your Medicare information to commit fraud, including charging medical claims to your insurance.
Choose Home Health Care Providers with Your Best Interests at Heart
With so many options available in Kansas and Missouri that all appear to be identical, remember that it’s what’s on the inside that matters. Phoenix Home Care & Hospice is distinguishable due to our careful selection of employees and caregivers and our patient-focused care in all our services, including home health care.
And although we cannot help you if you fall victim to a Medicare scam, we can and will help you with your health concerns as your home health care provider. Contact us to learn more.