Oct 3, 2012 2:03 PM
TUCSON - The Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona issued a warning Wednesday about fraudsters targeting senior citizens regarding Medicare coverage. The BBB tells the News 4 Investigators they have received calls from seniors in the Tucson area who were contacted by telephone from representatives claiming to be with Medicare and seeking personal financial information.
Below is the full text of the alert from the BBB:
Tucson, AZ - Oct. 3, 2012- Better Business Bureaus of Southern Arizona is warning seniors of telephone calls from scammers, claiming to be with Medicare, and asking for personal information- like social security numbers and bank account numbers.
Seniors in Tucson, and elsewhere in Arizona, have reported receiving calls from individuals claiming to be with Medicare offering "free" items such as a back brace and diabetic supplies, in exchange for consumers' financial and personal information.
In another scenario, the caller claims "all seniors are getting a new Medicare card" and, for verification purposes, they must provide the bank account number associated with their social security benefits.
"Consumers should be suspicious of unsolicited calls from anyone claiming to be from Medicare," said Kim States, BBB President. "Medicare will generally not make unsolicited calls to update information, issue a new card or offer free medical equipment. We recommend seniors hang up and call a trusted Medicare number if they have questions regarding their benefits."
BBB offers the following tips on safeguarding personal information and protecting against Medicare scams:
• Be suspicious of any door-to-door or telephone solicitations claiming to be affiliated with Medicare.
• Be wary of anyone offering you something for "free" in exchange for your Medicare number. Remember, Medicare will not pay for medical equipment without a physician's signature certifying that it is necessary.
• Do not provide your bank account information, Medicare number, social security number or any other personal information to unknown individuals over the phone; particularly telephone marketers claiming to be from Medicare and asking for payment.
• Review medical bills, Medicare Summary notices and insurance Explanation of Benefits for medical equipment or service charges that you did not incur. If you find unusual or questionable medical charges, contact your health care provider immediately.
• Only give your insurance/Medicare information to those who have provided you with medical services.
• Keep accurate records of medical appointments, procedures and medical equipment.
• Ask your medical providers what they will charge and how much you'll have to pay out-of-pocket.
• Never sign blank Medicare insurance forms.
• Call BBB at (520)888-5353 to obtain information on a business or visit www.tucson.bbb.org.
• Ensure your provider is approved by Medicare by contacting them directly at 1-800-633-4227.
To report suspected Medicare fraud, contact the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of Inspector General at oig.hhs.gov or call 1-800-447-8477. Arizona residents may also contact the Arizona Division of Aging and Adult Services at 1-800-432-4040.