County Warns Seniors of Medicare Fraud

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The annual Medicare Open Enrollment period, Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, offers members a chance to change their Medicare coverage, but the Atlantic County Office on Aging reminds residents not to fall victim to Medicare or Social Security fraud.

Medicare fraud is a serious problem that affects more than just the elderly. Approximately $1,000 per Medicare member is lost each year through theft or waste that results in higher healthcare costs and taxes.

“We’ve all heard the horror stories and think we’re smarter than that, but it happens all too often,” Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson said in a press release. “Protect your identity by protecting the information you share with others. If it sounds too good to be true, it likely is.”

Medicare fraud perpetrators often file false healthcare claims to obtain profits with information obtained from unsuspecting victims, including their name, Social Security number and Medicare number. Because many elderly may be lonely, more trusting, and more willing to engage in conversation, they are prime targets for this type of fraud.

Medical identify theft can disrupt your life and damage your credit rating. Sharing your personal identification information can also make it easier for scammers to make false credit card purchases or access your bank accounts.

Experts advise you to guard your Medicare and Social Security numbers like you would your credit cards. Be suspicious of anyone who offers free medical equipment or services or requests your Medicare or Social Security number as part of a survey.

If contacted by phone, simply hang up. Don’t be fooled into providing personal information to telephone marketers who claim to be from Medicare or Social Security and ask for payment or information over the phone.

Make a point to check your medical bills, explanation of benefits and credit reports to be sure you were not charged for services you didn’t receive or were billed twice for the same service. And make a habit of shredding your Medicare and healthcare documents before discarding them.

If your Medicare card is lost or stolen, report it promptly to Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. If you receive a suspicious call from someone alleging to represent the Social Security Administration, report details of the call to the Office of the Inspector General at https://oig.ssa.gov.

To report misuse of your personal identification, call the Federal Trade Commission’s Identify Theft hotline at: 1-877-438-4338.

The Atlantic County Office on Aging provides free Medicare Open Enrollment counseling and assistance for those who feel overwhelmed by health and prescription insurance plan choices or need help in making informed decisions about their coverage.

The Office on Aging staff is also available to provide information about home-delivered meals, caregiver support groups, adult day care, transportation, PAAD, Senior Gold and other programs.

While its offices remain closed to the public at this time due to COVID-19 restrictions, help is only a phone call away at 1-888-426-9243. To learn more visit www.aclink.org/intergenerational-services.