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Coronavirus: Watch out for Medicare fraud

Written by Diane Archer

Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar reports for AP that fraudsters are trying to sell older adults and people with disabilities fake coronavirus tests, along with other products and services. They want your personal information. Watch out for these scam artists!

The US Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General is witnessing schemes in which scammers offer older people COVID-19 tests as well as “Senior Care Packages.” Some scammers say they have a vaccine, even though no vaccine exists. Some say that President Trump is requiring testing for all older adults and tell you they need your Medicare number, another falsehood.

The scammers’ goal is to get your Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security number and other personal information. They then use the numbers fraudulently to bill Medicare and other programs for a range of services you don’t need.  If you end up needing those services at a later date, you might have difficulty getting them. Moreover, this raises health care costs and taxes for everyone.

You should beware of scammers who reach out via phone, social media, or email, as well as scammers who make personal visits. You should know that Medicare will never call you or visit you out of the blue; it will never ask for your Medicare number; it will never try to sell you anything.

No matter who it is who reaches out, do not release your personal information, even if you think it’s someone who sounds exactly like your child or grandchild. If it’s a call, hang up. If it’s an email, simply delete it. Do not respond.

Keep in mind that scammers have sophisticated technology to impersonate others. If it’s someone you think you know trying to sell you something or asking for your personal information, to confirm, call the person back and use the phone numbers you have in your contact information.

You should report fraud to the HHS inspector general’s hotline 800-HHS-TIPS or the National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline is at 866-720-5721.

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