Published: October 25, 2023 on our newsletter Security Fraud News & Alerts Newsletter.
Senior citizens and others on Medicare are an ongoing target for scammers. However, some Medicare scams spike at various points during the year, like other types of scams such as tax-related ones. Phone scams abound during peak “attention” time, such as the Medicare open enrollment period (OEP) with the goal of stealing PII for financial and other identity crimes. Those on Medicare and the people who care for them need to know how these OEP scams happen and how to avoid them.
Although scams can circulate throughout the year, during “in season” time is when they appear to be most prominent. However, in the case of Medicare, from October 15th to December 7th each year, Medicare’s OEP allows members to switch, join, or cancel a plan. It may seem like that’s a while off, but the scams are circulating anyway. Perhaps because the scammers want to “get ahead of the game,” or maybe just because they are held over from the last OEP. Holdover scams are common when relating to any current or recently current event.
Since OEP is well-known to Medicare scammers, they see added opportunities to enrich themselves. Medicare recipients can be among the most trusting but least able to spot a scam, even those involving their finances.
Whatever it Takes
Scammers have plenty of tools available for their phone swindles, and perhaps the most effective tool of all is gaining and then exploiting a victim’s trust. Playing the part of a Medicare representative, scammers call and offer assistance. Usually, the first thing they ask for is the Medicare number. Some turn the tables by requesting your PII to “verify” that you are really you. With these creeps, nothing is off limits, and they’ll do and say whatever it takes to trick you into giving up what they’re after.
Like many swindles, Medicare scams happen year-round. It’s the same idea as package delivery scams that happen every day but get much worse during the holiday season. Being aware this one exists provides a level of security on its own. But these scammers are dedicated to fleecing recipients and will do their best to succeed. Awareness is very important, and no matter what tactics a scammer uses: threats, urgency, friendly, helpful, offering a refund or freebie--remember, everything they say is a lie.
Medicare warns current and potential subscribers not to sign up for any services over the phone unless they initiate the call themselves. And never, ever give out PII especially to those you don’t know or trust.
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