LANSING, Mich. — As Medicare Open Enrollment began Oct. 15, officials from the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services are warning seniors to watch out for scams targeting them and their personal information.
Scammers posing as Medicare “representatives” may be contacting seniors and trying to trick them into giving Medicare ID numbers or other personal information, like a Social Security number or date of birth, according to a news release Wednesday.
“Medicare Open Enrollment should be a time when Michigan’s seniors can find security in enrolling in the coverage that is right for them, but unfortunately there are unscrupulous individuals using it as an opportunity to take advantage of seniors,” DIFS Director Anita Fox said. “The most important thing Medicare participants can do to avoid these scams is to refuse to give out personal information to anyone reaching out to them over the phone, online or at their front doors.”
State officials offered the following tips to protect seniors during Open Enrollment:
- Remember that Medicare agents and brokers selling Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plans:
- Cannot make unsolicited calls, send unsolicited text messages or leave voicemail messages
- May not approach you without you giving permission first (ex: door-to-door, walking up to cars and approaching in parks and supermarkets) or market you door-to-door, including leaving materials at a doorstep
- Cannot state that they are from Medicare, are approved, endorsed or authorized by Medicare, call on behalf of Medicare or say that Medicare or any state or federal agency asked them to call or see you.
- Do not rely on caller ID. Scammers can use technology to make it look like they are calling from a legitimate business or government agency.
- Never give your Medicare number or other personal information to callers or visitors saying they are 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.
- 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.
- Ignore anyone who contacts you saying you must join their prescription drug plan, but that coverage is voluntary.
- Don’t trust mailers that appear to be government communications. Sometimes these are advertisements for private companies that may have a disclaimer buried in small print.
For questions or concerns about Medicare coverage, DIFS and MDHHS urge people to contact Medicare directly at Medicare.gov or by calling 800-633-4227.