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Ask SAM: I'm getting calls about Medicare. Are they scams?

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SAM has seen a flood of questions about Medicare scams. Here’s a column from earlier this year that explains how to avoid such scams.

Q: I have been getting calls several times a day from Medicare asking me questions about me and my Medicare. Is this a scam? Someone told me it is.

P.N.

Answer: It’s either a scam to get personal information or a marketing call about signing-up for Medicare supplement plans.

Medicare will not cold call you about your Medicare coverage. They will send you a letter.

According to the Medicare 2022 handbook, Medicare doesn’t sell or share personal information for marketing purposes.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has these tips to prevent fraud:

Never give out your Medicare or Social Security Number to anyone except those you know should have it.

Report any suspicious activities like being asked over the phone for your Medicare/Social Security number or banking information. Medicare will never call you uninvited for this information.

Check billing statements and report suspicious charges. Use a calendar to track doctor’s appointments and services. It helps quickly spot possible fraud and billing mistakes. Check claims early by logging into mymedicare.gov.

Report suspicious activities by calling 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227).

For residents of North Carolina who have questions about Medicare, call the Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) at 855-408-1212.

Here’s some additional Medicare information from AARP.org:

“If you’re on Medicare, be aware: You will not be receiving a new chip card to replace your paper ID card. If somebody tells you that, they’re lying. It’s the latest Medicare scam.”

Here are suggestions from Medicare.gov about keeping your Medicare information safe and what to do if you get a call from someone claiming to be from Medicare. There is also information about when or if Medicare will call you.

“To help protect against identity theft, Medicare has mailed new Medicare cards to people with Medicare. Your new card has a new Medicare Number that’s unique to you, instead of your Social Security Number.

“Don’t share your Medicare Number or other personal information with anyone who contacts you by phone, email, or by approaching you in person, unless you’ve given them permission in advance.

“Medicare, or someone representing Medicare, will only call and ask for personal information in these situations:

“A Medicare health or drug plan can call you if you’re already a member of the plan. The agent who helped you join can also call you.

“A customer service representative from 1-800-MEDICARE can call you if you’ve called and left a message or a representative said that someone would call you back.

Be familiar with how Medicare uses your personal information. If you join a Medicare plan, the plan will let you know how it will use your personal information.

“If someone calls you and asks for your Medicare Number or other personal information, hang up and call us at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).”

“Only give personal information like your Medicare Number to doctors, insurers acting on your behalf, or trusted people in the community who work with Medicare like your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).

“Be familiar with how Medicare uses your personal information. If you join a Medicare plan, the plan will let you know how it will use your personal information.

“If someone calls you and asks for your Medicare Number or other personal information, hang up and call us at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).”

Email: AskSAM@wsjournal.com

Write: Ask SAM, 418 N. Marshall St., Winston-Salem, NC 27101

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