Avoiding Medicare Scams

A popular scam aimed at American seniors never seems to go away — it goes through cycles of heavy use, almost disappears for a while, and then reappears. The scam involves drug “discount-card” sales.

Here is how the scam works: you get a phone call, or an email, or a door-to-door “representative” knocks on your door. You are encouraged to buy a medicine “discount card” that will supposedly save “15 to 25 percent off the retail price of most medicines.” You may also be told this is a part of the Medicare Drug Benefit program.

What you need to know is, Medicare does not use door-to-door salespeople, or telephone marketers, or email marketers! The people offering these cards are trying to steal your money.

Sometimes they are trying to steal more. These crooks try to obtain as much personal information as they can, so they can use it for “identity theft” — with the right information about you, they can impersonate you and use your good credit, or even your assets such as your home, to borrow money or buy things that the lenders assume you wll pay for.

Do not participate!

If you are approached, in any way, by someone offering to sell you a medicine discount card, decline the offer. All Medicare drug discount program offers are delivered by mail — not by email, telephone, or in person visits.

Scammers may try sending their offers by mail, too. If you receive mail that appears to be from the Medicare program, visit the official Medicare website to check how to contact the program in your state. Once you have selected your state (and, optionally, your county) on that page, you will see details of the plans available to you and telephone numbers you can call. Use that information to compare with the mail you received, to see if the telephone number(s) in the letter match the provider listed for your location, then call the real provider.

Discounts

Do not assume that a discount card is your best option. Many states have special programs to help low-income seniors cope with the costs of prescription medications.

Help your parents

If you have a parent or parents who are seniors and you think they may be at risk from the scams described here, help them by investing a little of your time to work with them through the options available in Medicare.

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