Avoiding Medicare Scam Calls by Signing Up With the FTC Do Not Call List
- Older adults are sometimes targeted by spam calls from people offering Medicare. Learn more about these calls and how to get on the FTC do not call list.
Medicare scam calls are common in the United States, especially during open enrollment periods. The main objective of a Medicare spam or scam call is for the caller to obtain personal information such as a recipient's Social Security number or banking information to commit identity theft. People who receive suspicious phone calls pertaining to Medicare should report the calls as soon as possible and add their numbers to the government's Do Not Call list.
How Do You Sign Up For the Medicare Do Not Call List?
While there is no designated Do Not Call list specifically for Medicare spam or scam calls, people can add their telephone numbers to the Federal Trade Commission's official Do Not Call Registry to stop spam calls of all types, including Medicare. The registry is free for all users, and it accepts both landline and cellular phone numbers. Once an individual registers their phone number, it's added to the Do Not Call list that the FTC provides to telemarketers.
Once registered, it can take up to 31 days for the calls to stop. It's also important to note that this registry is specifically geared toward telemarketers, so it won't stop calls from charities, political campaigns or bill collectors. While telemarketers are expected to stop calling any and all numbers on the list, they may still attempt to call under different phone numbers. If an individual receives any unwanted sales calls after being on the registry for at least 31 days, they should report the calls to the FTC.
Does Medicare Call You at Home?
In general, Medicare only calls people at home for two reasons. Medicare health and drug plan agents may call current plan members if they need additional information following enrollment. Medicare representatives may also call current plan members who left messages requesting callbacks through Medicare's dedicated phone number (1-800-Medicare).
Are All Medicare Telemarketing Phone Calls Scams or Fraudulent?
Medicare representatives do not call people at home to sell plans or offer plan upgrades, and anyone receiving these types of calls should hang up immediately. During the Medicare open enrollment period, fraudsters often pose as agents and take advantage of older adults by offering to help them sign up for coverage. Anyone interested in signing up for Medicare should do so by calling Medicare directly or visiting the Medicare.gov website.
Scam callers often have access to limited personal information such as home addresses, email addresses and unlisted phone numbers. They obtain this information in a variety of ways, ranging from scanning social media profiles to searching public records. When a scam caller contacts someone over the phone in an attempt to commit fraud, they may use this information to seem more legitimate. If a call seems suspicious, the call recipient should end the call right away regardless of the amount of personal information the caller may have.
What Is the Medicare Card Scam?
All Medicare recipients are provided with identification cards that show effective coverage dates and the Medicare plans in which the recipients are enrolled. In 2018 and 2019, beneficiaries were provided with new cards designed to help prevent identity theft. The previous cards showed recipients' Social Security numbers, but the new cards utilize a unique series of numbers referred to as Medicare Beneficiary Identifier numbers.
During the period when the cards were mailed out to beneficiaries, a scam occurred in which certain recipients were receiving phone calls from individuals claiming to be Medicare employees. The callers would advise the Medicare recipients that a fee was required to receive their new cards, and they would also request personally identifying information. While the new card rollout has ended, some Medicare recipients are still receiving phone calls from scammers who ask for personal identifying and financial information to send out "updated" cards.
Any Medicare recipient who receives an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be a Medicare representative should hang up immediately and report the call to Medicare. It's also important for recipients to guard their identification cards and only provide Medicare information to trusted parties such as physicians, state health agencies and pharmacies.