Here’s how to spot scammers trying to trick you into helping them commit Medicare fraud.

2 minute read

If you’re enrolled in Medicare, you could become a target of Medicare scammers promising free genetic testing or medical equipment and services never received – but billed to Medicare anyway, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

“For the victims, these cons can lead to medical identity theft and, in some instances, a bill for thousands of dollars,” says the BBB. But you don’t have to become a Medicare scammer’s next victim if you know how to spot and avoid a Medicare scam.

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1. Requests for your Medicare number

If someone calls claiming to be from Medicare or a company that says it needs your Medicare number to update records or provide services or medical equipment, don’t provide the number or other personal information. Just hang up.

Keep your Medicare Number to yourself,” advises Medicare. “If you get a call from people promising you things if you give them your Medicare Number, don’t do it. This is a common Medicare scam.”

Find out: The Top 5 Scams Targeting Seniors

2. Free genetic testing kits

Scammers claiming to offer “free” genetic testing kits to Medicare recipients are on the rise, according to the BBB. A scammer calls, claiming to be from Medicare or another organization or company with an official-sounding name. The caller offers to send a genetic testing kit so you can find out if you’re more at risk for certain medical issues or diseases. All you have to do to receive the kit is provide your Medicare number. Don’t hand that number over, though.

In some cases, the genetic testing itself may not be a scam, and you may even receive the testing kid in the mail. But the scammers’ intent is to commit Medicare fraud by billing Medicare for unnecessary tests. If you receive such a call, hang up and report the caller to Medicare. “Consumers should always consult with their primary care doctor before agreeing to tests,” says the BBB.

Find out: 5 Medicare Myths About Long-Term Care

3. Durable medical equipment

Another common Medicare scam is one in which someone calls offering free durable medical equipment such as a back brace or knee brace. The caller tells you that you qualify for the free equipment, and if you agree and provide your Medicare number, they will submit an order to your doctor for the products. Even if you say no, the company might ship the brace to you anyway, billing Medicare with your Medicare number and other information you provide.

“By law, no one is allowed to make unsolicited calls to consumers about durable medical equipment,” says the BBB. “If they do, it’s Medicare fraud. And taxpayers’ foot the bill for all the unwanted products. If you get such a call, just hang up.”

Find out: 8 Things to Know About Buying a Medicare Supplement Plan

4. Phantom call Medicare imposters

Medicare scammers may employ “spoof’ caller ID technology to falsely identify the call as coming from Medicare or another government agency. So, don’t trust your caller I.D. if it shows the call is from Medicare. Medicare won’t call you with questions or issues, typically sending a letter instead. So any call you receive that claims to be from Medicare is probably a scam.

If you’re concerned that there may be a legitimate problem with your Medicare enrollment or coverage, always call Medicare directly to speak with an agent.

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

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