BBB: Staying Alert to Medicare Enrollment Fraud – KRIS Corpus Christi News

CORPUS CHRISTI -

Are you considering changing your Medicare coverage? Between now and December 7th, the open enrollment period for Medicare, you have the opportunity to do so without penalty. Of course, this gives scam artists another opportunity to steal personal information from the unsuspecting.

Currently, over  3.5 million Texans receive benefits and this open enrollment period allows changes that include:

  • Switching from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage, or vice versa;
  • Switching from one Medicare Advantage plan to another, or from one Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan to another;
  • Enrolling in a Medicare Part D plan if you did not do so when you were first eligible (although a late enrollment penalty may apply).

Of course, all the advertising and solicitations during this period can confuse even the smartest person, and it’s important to make sure you are working with a trustworthy company before giving away important information. In order to reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim of fraud, the Better Business Bureau suggests keeping the following in mind:

Guard Your Medicare Number

Your number is unique to you, just like your Social Security number, and should not be shared. Protect your number the same way you would protect your bank and credit card information. If someone tries to convince you to give up your Medicare number, you may be well-served to simply hang up the phone.

Verify Licensing

The Medicare-eligible population grows every year, making sales of Medicare plans big business. Independent agents and brokers selling plans must be licensed, and the plan must tell the state which agents are selling plans on the company’s behalf. Before any decisions are made, verify that the agent has proper credentials with a known company. To find more information about a business, go to BBB.org or contact the Texas Department of Insurance.

Dodge Phony Pitches

Phone calls, door-to-door recruitment, phishing emails, offers that come in the mail, health fairs, dinners, contests and prizes have all been used to lure people who may be pressed for time or confused by their Medicare options.

It is wise to question the legitimacy of any approach that includes:

  • High-pressure sales or offers of “early bird discounts” during open enrollment for lower monthly premiums.
  • Offers of a “special plan made just for you.”
  • Salespeople who ask for personal information upfront before you are enrolled.
  • Claims there is a problem with your plan or there is a new card for your plan and updated information is needed.
  • Asking for payment over the phone (note: plans must send you an actual bill).

To report fraudulent activity, visit the BBB Scam Tracker  or call (361) 852-4991.

Got a question for the BBB? Contact Regional Director Kelly Trevino at ktrevino@corpuschristi.bbb.org.

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