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Hoosiers see uptick in back brace scam calls

Caller tries to get personal information from you
Federal Trade Commission warns Medicare recipients about back brace scam
Posted at 8:09 AM, Nov 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-05 17:45:48-05

BLOOMINGTON — WRTV Investigates has uncovered a rising scam aimed at Medicare recipients, and this time, the scammers are stealing your Medicare dollars and peace of mind.

Nik Spurgetis of Bloomington got a phone call from Medicare, even though he’s not on Medicare.

"The call you get will typically start with a pre-recorded message saying you are eligible for a free or low cost back or knee brace under Medicare,” said Nik.

Nik hung up the phone, but says the caller was convincing.

"They've asked me for personal information, my Medicare number, name, address, social security number, things like that,” said Nik.

Anna Miller in Oklahoma wasn’t so lucky.

"That’s a back brace,” Anna Miller, a 94-year-old Medicare recipient, said as she rifled through a package delivered to her home.

Inside the box was a back brace, shoulder brace, and a couple other pieces of medical equipment; the items came bundled together in a box addressed to Miller.

"They must have thought I was in bad shape to send me both of them in one box,” Anna joked.

She said she never ordered any kind of medical devices.

"I thought it was terrible because I figured it was false,” Anna said.

As it turns out, her Medicare account got charged for the back and shoulder brace. It’s a scam the FTC said is on the rise targeting Medicare dollars and personal information.

Medicare confirmed they are investigating the matter. Meanwhile, the FTC is warning Medicare recipients to be aware.

  • If someone calls and says they're with Medicare and offers you a “free” or “low cost” brace, hang up right away.
  • Medicare will never call you with such an offer. Never give your Medicare or other personal information over the phone to anyone.
  • If you do need a brace or medical equipment, talk to your doctor. Sellers on the phone don’t know what you need.
  • Lastly, don't accept medical equipment you get in the mail unless you or your doctor ordered it. You don't have to pay for things you didn't order.

Indiana Senior Medicare Patrol is getting a lot of complaints as well.

“These people are good, they're scammers,” said Nancy Moore with Indiana Senior Medicare Patrol. “They could talk the chicken off the bone. They make you want it. Even though you don't need it or have pain."

Moore said Medicare wouldn’t call you with an offer about a free or low cost back brace.

Just hang up.

"Don't order it. A lot of times, I ask people would you pick up a hitchhiker?” said Nancy. “Well, picking up your phone is like picking up a hitchhiker because you really don't know who is on the other end."

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