How to spot fraud, predatory sales during Medicare open enrollment

MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF
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MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

Scammers and high pressure sales tactics often appear as Medicare open enrollment season nears.

Every year open enrollment runs Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 and is a chance for people to shop for options and switch plans if desired.

But there are rules to what sales tactics that insurance agents can use. And scammers sometimes pose as officials to solicit personal information.

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Medicare recipients in recent years received new identification cards, said Chris Reeg, director of the Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program Director Agents.

“Most of the fraudsters don’t have that number yet so we’d like to keep it that way. Don’t give out your social security number, bank account information, any private information. Especially if someone reached out to you,” Reeg said.

Ohioans should be on alert for fake Medicare communications seeking personal information or money in exchange for any of the following: to help with enrollment, to schedule health services, to sign up for a Part D prescription drug plan or Medicare health plan coverage, and to provide a new Medicare card.

How to protect yourself:

  • Never give personal information, including Medicare, Social Security, bank account, and credit card numbers, to anyone who contacts you unsolicited by telephone, email, text, or in person, such as door-to-door sales.
  • Medicare will never call you to sell anything, visit your home, or enroll you over the phone unless you called first.
  • Medicare or Medicare health plans will only call and request personal information if you’re a plan member or you called and left a message.
  • Only give certain personal information to your doctors, insurance companies acting on your behalf, or trusted people in the community officially working with Medicare such as the department’s Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program .
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If you feel an insurance agent is using high-pressure, fraudulent, or dishonest sales practices, contact the department’s Fraud and Enforcement Division at 800-686-1527.

“If somebody calls you and they’re getting belligerent that you won’t give them your private information, hang up and report,” Reeg said.

Trained government workers not affiliated with any insurance company are available at 800-686-1578 to answer Medicare questions.