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Scam targets Medicare enrollees in Montana

Posted at 10:21 AM, Apr 23, 2024

GREAT FALLS — Officials are warning of a scam targeting Medicare enrollees in Montana that offers free services, medical equipment, or gift cards in exchange for the target’s Medicare number. They are contacting Medicare enrollees over the phone, or via text and email.

Once the scammer obtains the target’s medicare number, they can bill Medicare for unnecessary medical equipment on your behalf, like knee braces, ordering genetics tests, or most recently, catheters.

The target may or may not receive this equipment. If so, it is often cheaply built or entirely unusable.

If the enrollee should require this equipment down the line, it will have to be paid out of pocket, since according to Medicare’s records, the enrollee already received the item.

Pam Roatch, a Resource and Assessment Specialist with the Cascade County Aging Services, explains the scam “is taking money away from Medicare and taking services away from you. So, what happens when a person gets your Medicare number, they're going to be able to send the number, you know, with a bill or a charge under your name. You can start off thinking it's an error, but if you receive these items that you don't want, you want to make sure that Medicare is not paying for them. So the sooner you can contact someone, the better."

The Montana Senior Medicare Patrol warns that Medicare Providers are not calling and not updating your card with a chip or plastic card. All Medicare cards are paper, with the exception of Puerto Rico.

Do not give out your Medicare number over the phone, and be sure to read your Medicare summary notices. If you see anything out of the ordinary, such as medical equipment you did not order, contact Medicare or a State Health Insurance counselor immediately, or reach out to a family member who can.

“A scam is a scam,” Roatch says, “ whether it's through a text, an email, or a phone call. Just please do not give out your information and do not share your Medicare number. Guard your card. Keep it safe, because it is much like a credit card."

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