With Medicare open enrollment less than two months away, the Oklahoma Insurance Department is asking seniors to be on alert. The warning comes after several Oklahomans have reported questionable phone calls from people claiming to represent or partner with Medicare.
“These callers are insistent on getting personal information from our seniors,” said Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak. “We urge Oklahomans to never give out personal details such as date of birth, bank account numbers or their Medicare number over the phone. There are just too many cases of fraudulent activity in phone calls and new scams cropping up on a regular basis.” In one case, a man reported the caller asked for his birth date and Medicare costs. The caller implied that she was working with Medicare to audit Medicare supplement costs. In another instance, the caller told a senior he could get free supports and braces for his back and legs even though he did not need them. Seniors should beware of any promises of 100 percent coverage for medical equipment by Medicare. Medicare only covers durable medical equipment that is medically necessary and ordered by a doctor.
Purchasing medical equipment over the phone or internet and without involving your physician could actually cause more harm than good. The same is true for purchasing insurance.
To avoid potential scams, never buy insurance over the phone from an agent you do not know. It’s safer to use a local agent who you either personally know or who has been recommended to you by family or friends.
Here are a few more tips to protect yourself:
* If you don’t recognize the number on your caller ID, don’t answer the phone. If it’s important, the caller will leave a message. * If you answer the phone and realize it’s someone trying to sell you something or asking for your personal information, hang up. Seniors were raised to be polite, but in these situations, safety is more important. * If someone shows up at your home claiming to be from Medicare or claiming to partner with Medicare, close the door. Medicare will not come to your house, and Medicare does not endorse any particular policy or insurance company. * Report any suspicious calls to the Medicare Assistance Program at the Oklahoma Insurance Department at 800-763-2828.