Authorities warn seniors of Medicare scam phone calls

National News

NEW YORK, Ny., (CBS) — Authorities are warning about a scam targeting seniors. The scammers prey on people concerned about their health and Medicare coverage.

Seniors across the country are receiving robocalls that claim to be from Medicare. Some calls are from people claiming to be “patient advocates,” giving warnings like: “If you do not act soon, then Medicare may label you as ineligible for coverage.”

But it’s a scam, according to the AARP. The fake calls have hit more than 60 million Americans. “These are sophisticated criminals,” says Kathy Stokes, the director of fraud prevention programs at AARP. “In this process, the caller is asking for your Medicare number.”

Scam artists may sell that Medicare number to other criminals or use it to file fraudulent claims.

Authorities in Columbiana County, Ohio say residents there are getting a different fake Medicare call. “They’ll actually have the appropriate Medicare number and the name to go along with it, and they’re telling them they need a new card,” says Sheriff Brian McLaughlin.

The Federal Trade Commission says scammers are often trying to collect personal information. They’ll say things like: “I’m from Medicare. We’re sending out the new cards and I need your billing information to keep your coverage active.”

Medicare never randomly calls looking for money or offering test kits. “Know that that’s a scam because that’s not how it works. Your doctor has to prescribe durable medical equipment or surgeries or test kits, and without that prescription, you can’t get this stuff,” Stokes says.

The Federal Trade Commission says if you receive a call like this, simply hang up.

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