In the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic, some bad individuals have taken it upon themselves to try and scam Seniors out of any money that they may have.
Most recently, I have had an uptick in clients call in because they are receiving calls from scammers claiming to be from Medicare or insurance companies stating that if they don’t return their call, their Medicare and/or Medicare insurance plan will be terminated.
I had one client fall for it whom received a call on the weekend of all days. He proceeded to call back at 11 pm on Monday the next day, and gave the scammer his credit card number to “keep his Medicare plan in place.” He called me Tuesday upset because I had told him his Medicare plan would have no monthly premium (which is correct), so I had him give me the phone number he called. I looked it up and sure enough, it was not the number to his plan and was flagged as a scam number. I proceeded to guide him to report this to his credit card and cancel it to order a new one.
Please let your friends and loved ones know that this is going on. Here are a few quick tips to avoid getting scammed:
1) Medicare does not call if there’s an issue – snail mail is their choice of communication.
2) A Medicare insurance plan may call, but if they do, it will be during business hours during the week either to do a well-being check or for something similar in nature (fix prescription drug issues, talk about benefits they can take advantage of like free gym memberships, over the counter allowances, meal benefits, nurse visits, etc.)- they will not ask for payment unless they choose to use a mail order program and a prescription needs a copay.
3) Neither Medicare or any Medicare insurance plan will pick up a call after business hours (definitely not 11 pm as was the case with my client).
If in doubt, I ask my clients to take the number that called, so I can look it up for them and let them know if it’s a legitimate call. Medicaid (public aid) has been known to call Medicaid recipients to help with Long Term Care plans they need to enroll in at no cost to them.
One final note: there are Medicare Insurance Brokers that are also cold calling Seniors during this time more than normal. It is ILLEGAL for Medicare Insurance Brokers (like myself) to cold call Seniors randomly to solicit business. Just this morning, I had a client call me because someone whom he thought was from his Medicare insurance plan called last month. He was switched to a different insurance plan that absolutely made no sense for him, since it didn’t work with his doctor or medications and had less benefits than what he had. He contends he did not know he was being switched- he thought he was merely verifying his information when they asked him for it. Luckily, I was able to fix it and get him back to where he was.
Please encourage Seniors to be cautious (but not paranoid) of whom they share their information with. I had a lady last month whom I could’ve helped lower the drug costs she was struggling to pay by helping her apply to an Extra Help program through the Social Security Administration (she had the right Medicare insurance plan for her, but her Agent had not talked to her about that drug program). Unfortunately, she was so paranoid about sharing her information (even though she called me ) that all I could do was give her the web site and phone number hoping she will do it herself because she really needs it.
Written By Rafael Nunez, Jr – Medicare Insurance Broker with the Nunez Agency – (312) 492-6000