Better Business Bureau warns of Medicare/Medicaid scams

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The Better Business Bureau has received numerous calls from local consumers who appear to be the target of a Medicare scam. Consumers state that the caller offered to send them new Medicare cards, including ones that offered extra benefits, and then asked for the name of their bank.

Frank Cilona, BBB CEO, states, "It's a scam that unfortunately some seniors fall for. The caller claims to represent Medicare or other government agencies and ask consumers to update information in order to receive their Medicare cards or benefits. If they successfully get banking information, they'll use it to commit identity theft."

"These individuals can be very aggressive, often calling many times and at all hours of the day to wear down potential victims. They may have limited information about the person that's easily obtained from public databases that they use to make the call seem legitimate, says Cilona."

The Better Business Bureau offers the following advice when dealing with such calls:

Medicare, Medicaid and the Social Security Administration will not call to update information or issue a new card. If receiving one of these calls, hang up and report it to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The majority of the Medicare related scams involve some form of identity theft. Do not give out personal information to unknown callers that request it.

If unsure if a call is legitimate, hang up and verify by calling the agency or checking with the Better Business Bureau.

Some other forms of Medicare fraud that cost taxpayers billions of dollars a year include:

A health care provider or supplier bills Medicare for services or equipment never received.

Someone uses another person's Medicare card to get medical care, supplies or equipment.

Someone bills Medicare for home medical equipment after it has been returned.

A company offers a Medicare drug plan that has not been approved by Medicare (calling seniors under the pretense of enrolling them in a drug plan is another common identity theft scam).

A company uses false information to mislead you into joining a Medicare plan.

If unsure if an offer is legitimate, consumers are urged to contact the Better Business Bureau to check on a company or charity or file a complaint at www.cantonbbb.org or calling 1-800-362-0494.

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