Consumer Alert: Medicare Phone Scams in North Dakota
Posted on 8/9/2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jim Poolman
August 9, 2006
Bismarck, ND - Insurance Commissioner Jim Poolman today warned that phone scammers are hard at work in North Dakota. The Insurance Department has recently received telephone calls indicating that Medicare beneficiaries may be at risk from con-artists asking for bank account information and Social Security numbers over the phone.
Poolman said, "In this case, the scammers tell seniors that new Medicare cards are being issued and that bank information is needed."
Because it is against Medicare's rules to call a person with Medicare and ask for bank account or other personal information, or cash payment, over the telephone, no beneficiary should ever provide that kind of information to someone who calls them. Such calls must be placed by the beneficiaries themselves or handled by a follow-up letter to which the beneficiary may choose to reply.
Poolman added, "It is really important for seniors and other Medicare recipients to be aware of these scams and to do what they can to protect themselves. A good rule of thumb is to never give out any personal information over the phone."
If any North Dakota Medicare recipient receives a suspicious phone call, they should immediately report it to the ND Insurance Department by phoning 1.800.247.0560.
Tips for People with Medicare to Protect Against Scams
Medicare beneficiaries can take steps to protect themselves by remembering:
No one can come into your house uninvited.
No one can ask you for personal information during their marketing activities.
Always keep all personal information, such as your Medicare number, safe, just as you would a credit card or a bank account number.
Whenever you have a question or concern about any activity regarding Medicare, call the ND Insurance Department at 1-888-575-6611 or Medicare at 1-877-7SAFERX (1-877-772-3379).
Legitimate Medicare drug plans will not ask for payment over the telephone or the Internet. They must send a bill to the beneficiary for the monthly premium.
Beneficiaries can pay automatically by setting up a monthly withdrawal from their Social Security check. Beneficiaries may also pay by monthly check or set up an automatic withdrawal from a bank account, but beneficiaries must call their plan or respond to a mailed payment request from the plan to do this.