CONSUMER ALERT: Don't fall prey to Medicare scams
BATON ROUGE — Open enrollment season for consumers shopping for new health insurance plans can also be open season for scam artists looking for victims. Whether you are a senior on Medicare or enrolled in private insurance, Attorney General James D. “Buddy” Caldwell doesn’t want you to get mixed up in a scam.
“Research shows that Americans aged 65 and older are the prime targets of scams, and that senior citizens receive more mail and telephone solicitations than any other age group,” Attorney General Caldwell said. “We want to equip our seniors with the information they need to protect themselves against fraud.”
Attorney General Caldwell offers Louisiana seniors the following tips in order to protect themselves during open enrollment season:
Medicare’s open enrollment period is from October 15, 2015 until December 7, 2015, and a variety of scams target Medicare recipients. Here are a few:
- An “official Medicare agent” knocks on your door selling Medicare insurance that can save you money. Stop. It’s a scam. There are no Medicare sales representatives. It’s probably someone who wants to use your information to commit fraud or identity theft.
- Someone calls and says you must join their prescription plan or else you’ll lose your Medicare coverage. Don’t believe it. The Medicare prescription drug plan (also known as Part D) is voluntary and as such, does not affect your Medicare coverage.
- Someone calls or emails claiming that you need to give your Medicare number in order to update your account or to get a new card. It’s a scam. Don’t give your personal information over the phone or by email. If you need help with Medicare, call 1-800-MEDICARE or go to medicare.gov.
If you’re looking for health insurance, make sure that’s what you’re buying. Be on the lookout for medical discount plans. They’re not the same as health insurance, though many claim to be. Many of these plans are scams that don’t deliver on the services promised. Others are just a way for identity thieves to get your personal information. The Louisiana Department of Insurance can tell you if the plan is insurance and whether the seller is licensed in Louisiana.
In an effort to further protect seniors, Attorney General Caldwell’s office distributes a special consumer publication on elder fraud prevention. The 40-page, easy-to-read booklet contains information on how to avoid telemarketing, mortgage, contractor and charity fraud and other types of fraud commonly perpetrated on older citizens.
The Elder Fraud Prevention booklet can be found online at www.AGBuddyCaldwell.com. Free single copies are also available by calling the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 351-4889.
Report health care scams
If you think you may be a victim of a health care scam, report it to Attorney General Caldwell’s Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 351-4889.