CRAWFORDSVILLE — The scam calls are so out of hand, Dan Bennett, of Crawfordsville, can’t even answer the phone anymore.
Bennett reached out to WRTV Investigates after receiving multiple calls from people claiming to be from Medicare or affiliated with the government program.
“Normally we don't pick up calls from unidentified people, but due to some issues we've had we've needed to accept some calls,” Bennett said.
Bennett said the calls often look like they’re coming from Indiana area codes.
“They call up and ask if you've received your plastic Medicare card with the chip,” Bennett said. “Of course, I say no and they go into their spiel. And then they want me to get my old cardboard card."
Bennett said he ends the call before sharing his personal information but worries about his fellow senior citizens.
“We enjoy and see your reports on WRTV,” Bennett said. “I think it would be really easy to fall for this scam. I want to help warn other people that they shouldn't answer those calls and engage with those people."
WRTV Investigates asked Nancy Moore with Indiana’s Senior Medicare Patrol whether there’s such a thing as a plastic Medicare card with a chip in it.
“There’s no such thing,” Moore said. “It’s a paper card. Four years ago, everyone was issued a new card without their Social Security number.”
Scammers are using confusion to get people like Bennett to reveal their Medicare number, which can lead to insurance fraud and identity theft.
“It’s a nationwide scam,” Moore said.
Moore said scammers may also try to get you to agree to a back brace or other durable medical equipment that you may not need.
“It could add up to $6,000 that they could bill Medicare,” Moore said. “They often record you saying yes. They can use that when you report it to Medicare and there's an investigation, they can say you agreed to the product."
Indiana Senior Medicare Patrol, which does education throughout the state, advises people to let their phone go to voicemail.
“Picking up your phone is like picking up a hitchhiker because you really don't know who is on the other end,” Moore said. “They can say anything."
Bennett said he’s no longer picking up or answering questions and is thankful he has not lost any money or given up personal information.
“We've gone back to not answering the phone again,” Bennett said.
Medicare says they may call you if you've called 1-800 MEDICARE and asked them to call you.
If you get a phone call and suspect it's a scam, hang up and call 1-800 MEDICARE directly. Don't rely on the number on your caller ID.
TIPS FROM MEDICARE:
- Protect your Medicare Number and your Social Security Number.
- Guard your Medicare card like it’s a credit card.
- Become familiar with how Medicare uses your personal information. If you join a Medicare health or drug plan, the plan will let you know how it will use your personal information.
- Remember that Medicare will never call you to sell you anything or visit you at your home. Medicare, or someone representing Medicare, will only call and ask for personal information in these 2 situations:
- A Medicare health or drug plan may call you if you’re already a member of the plan. The agent who helped you join can also call you.
- A customer service representative from 1-800-MEDICARE can call you if you’ve called and left a message or a representative said that someone would call you back.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission if you think you’ve been a victim of identity theft.
- Give your Medicare card, Medicare Number, Social Security card, or Social Security Number to anyone except your doctor or people you know should have it (like insurers acting on your behalf or people who work with Medicare, like your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP)
- Accept offers of money or gifts for free medical care.
- Allow anyone, except your doctor or other Medicare providers, to review your medical records or recommend services.
- Join a Medicare health or drug plan over the phone unless you called us.