Medicare recipients are currently being targeted by one of the biggest scams in the program’s history.
Of course, Medicare enrollees are no strangers to scams. They are often targeted – including by a vast number of fake IRS calls every tax season. Scammers often believe they can trick elders more easily than other victims. In the past, this has led to some seniors losing their entire savings over the course of a single brief call.
This recent fraud campaign has the potential to impact even more people in Florida and beyond.
All 60 million Medicare recipients are being targeted. The precision and persistence of this attack suggests that it is very sophisticated and that the scammers may even have access to some recipients’ personal information. That makes it easier for them to sound more convincing when they do get people on the phone.
Here’s what Florida Medicare recipients and their families need to know about the situation
“Becky From Medicare” Marks A New Threat To Florida’s Elderly And Retired Population
The call appears to come from West Palm Beach, Florida, which may make it seem more legitimate to people in the Sunshine State. In the call, which is recorded and made automatically, a person called Becky identifies herself as “your patient advocate” and gives information about a fictitious cancer screening program.
The recording says that “anyone over the age of 50” should be tested and warns that those who do not respond may be “labeled ineligible for coverage” by Medicare. This confusing message is intended to persuade people to opt-in or else risk losing their Medicare coverage. Of course, no such cancer screening initiative exists.
It is not known how many people have fallen for the Becky robocall, but it is one of the most widespread scam calls in history. Since the beginning of 2021, it has been the #1 robocall “in almost every community in our customer base,” says CEO Aaron Foss of Nomorobo, a company that provides call-blocking solutions.
AARP’s Fraud Watch Network has also been bombarded by calls from those affected by the scam.
It is impossible to know exactly how many people have been victimized by the fraud, but with millions of calls being placed every month, anyone in the Medicare network may find themselves on the other end of the call at any time. The goal appears to be to gather and sell Medicare information to other scammers.
Be Wary Of Anyone Who Claims To Be Working With Medicare
As a general rule, the U.S. government does not call citizens on the phone to get information. If an agency like Social Security or Medicare wants to know something, it will send a letter first. The letter is important because it tells you precisely what the situation is about and what documentation you are expected to submit.
Even though the Becky scam does not seem to be aimed at stealing your money, it is still dangerous.
When people answer this call, they are asked questions about their health history and that of their close family. Scammers are looking for anyone who mentions a history of high blood pressure, cancer, or heart disease in the family. Then, they pounce by telling callers they are “pre-qualified” for the fake genetic screening test.
No test will ever take place, but this is the crux of the scam: Asking for your Medicare ID number.
Like your Social Security number, your Medicare ID number is a personal identifier that should remain secret.
Medicare cards were updated over 2018 and 2019, when Social Security-based ID numbers were permanently removed from the cards and a new individual ID number was issued for all recipients. It is no surprise scammers have been working overtime to get this information, known as Medicare Beneficiary Identifiers.
Naturally, you should never give your MBI to anyone who calls you over the phone.
If it is necessary to submit your MBI to a physician or other provider, be sure you are speaking to that company by hanging up and then dialing their direct number. You do not need to submit your MBI over the phone even if you are sure that you are talking to a healthcare provider with a legitimate concern.
Any legitimate provider will give you the opportunity to submit your MBI by mail or other secure means. Once a provider has your MBI on file, you should never need to submit it again. You will usually provide your MBI in the form of a copy of your Medicare card when you are filling out new patient forms at any doctor’s office.
If you receive the Becky robocall, the best thing to do is not to answer at all.
Get The Real Facts On Medicare From Your Local Health Insurance Broker
Not only will Medicare not contact you directly over the phone, but it is also very difficult to get in touch with them.
When it’s time to enroll in Medicare and learn about the benefits, many people have reported problems trying to connect with a Medicare representative. Unless you get the facts, you could find yourself without the coverage you need. Some people even end up paying penalties because they accidentally enrolled on the wrong date.
When issues like these rear their head, it is time to talk to a local health insurance broker you can trust.
A local health insurance broker is a highly trained expert who knows insurance inside and out. The right team can help you learn about Medicare as well as all the other personal health insurance options you might qualify for. Plus, they are not bound to any one health insurance company.
That means they can help you get the information you need to make an informed decision.
Some Americans do not even realize they are not required to choose Medicare if another health insurance is a better fit for their needs. But even when Medicare is the obvious best choice, you still need to make some important selections that will optimize the way your policy works. It doesn’t all happen on its own!
For example, you might decide that you need supplemental Medicare insurance for prescription drugs.
Decisions related to your Medicare policy substantially affect how your benefits can be used. They often can’t be undone until the following year. A local health insurance broker isn’t a Medicare representative, but he or she can help you uncover the details you need and be aware of alternatives at the same time.
When you get started with Choice Health Insurance Brokers of Florida, you are starting a relationship with someone who cares about your situation and knows how to make the most of every kind of insurance on the market. That’s better than dealing with faceless figures over the phone, whoever they may be.
Medicare helps millions of older Americans enjoy their retirement. We can help you find out more about it and make health insurance easier. To get started, simply contact Choice Health Insurance today.