LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Open enrollment began for Medicare on Oct. 15 and Michigan is warning seniors to keep their eyes peeled for scams that are targeting them and their personal info.
Medicare Open Enrollment goes from Oct. 15-Dec. 7 and the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) say scammers will pose as “representatives.”
The departments say scammers will try to trick seniors into giving them their Medicare ID numbers or other personal info.
“Medicare Open Enrollment should be a time when Michigan’s seniors can find security in enrolling in the coverage that is right for them, but unfortunately there are unscrupulous individuals using it as an opportunity to take advantage of seniors,” said DIFS Director Anita Fox. “The most important thing Medicare participants can do to avoid these scams is to refuse to give out personal information to anyone reaching out to them over the phone, online, or at their front doors.”
The departments shared some important tips for protecting seniors during Open Enrollment:
· Remember that Medicare Agents/Brokers selling Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plans:
o Cannot make unsolicited calls, send unsolicited text messages, or leave voicemail messages,
o May not approach you without you giving permission first (e.g. door to door, walking up to cars, and approaching in parks and supermarkets) or market to you door to door, including leaving materials at a doorstep, and
· No agent is permitted to state that they are from Medicare, are approved, endorsed, or authorized by Medicare, call on behalf of Medicare, or say that Medicare or any state or federal agency asked them to call or see you.
· Do not rely on caller ID. Scammers can use technology to make it look like they are calling from a legitimate business or government agency.
· Never give your Medicare number or other personal information to callers or visitors saying they are from Medicare. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will never call or send someone to your home to ask for personal information or check your Medicare number.
· You are always able to get information on Medicare plans without providing an ID number. The only time the Medicare ID number is required is when you are actually enrolling in a plan.
· Ignore anyone who contacts you saying you must join their prescription drug plan, or you will lose your Medicare coverage. There may be a penalty if you delay enrolling in the Medicare prescription drug plan (also known as Part D), but that coverage is voluntary.
· Don’t trust mailers that appear to be government communications. Sometimes these are advertisements for private companies that may have a disclaimer buried in small print.