Robocall scams can often seem random, but that's not always the case. Sometimes they are highly targeted - as with older Americans whose Medicare eligibility opens the door to health insurance fraud.
Be aware that bad actors may spoof the number that appears on your caller ID so that an incoming call seems to be from a government agency or a health provider that you already know and trust. They do this to entice you to answer.
When you pick up, a scam caller usually starts chatting you up to engage you, asking you conversational questions to put you at ease. Whatever scam scenario follows, the caller is trying to get your personal information, such as your Medicare card number, your Social Security Number, or other health insurance identification.
For your awareness
- Medicare does not call you uninvited and ask you for personal or private information.
- You will usually get a written statement in the mail before you get a phone call from a government agency.
- Calls requesting health insurance information should not be trusted.
Medicare.gov advises that you take the following precautions:
- Never give your Medicare card, Medicare Number, Social Security card, or Social Security Number to anyone except your doctor or people you know should have it (like insurers acting on your behalf or people who work with Medicare, like your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Get the contact information for your local SHIP.
- Do NOT accept offers of money or gifts for free medical care.
- Don't allow anyone, except your doctor or other Medicare providers, to review your medical records or recommend services.
- Never Join a Medicare health or drug plan over the phone unless YOU called Medicare.
- If someone asks you for your information, for money, or threatens to cancel your health benefits if you don't share your personal details, hang up and call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or visit medicare.gov.
Be vigilant. Scammers can be very convincing, and they may know a little – or a lot – about you, especially if they have access to some of your personal information already. Follow these simple tips to avoid spoofing scams:
- Don't answer calls from unknown numbers.
- If you answer and the caller isn't who you expected, hang up immediately.
- Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother's maiden names, passwords or any other self-identifying response to an unexpected call.
- Use caution if you are being pressured for information immediately.
- If a caller claims to represent a health insurance provider or a government agency, simply hang up. You can then call back using a phone number on an account statement, in the phone book, or on an official website to verify the caller's authenticity.
"Medicare & You: Preventing Medicare Fraud," a video from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, advises you to "hang up the phone if someone calls and asks for your Medicare number." It also urges you to guard your Medicare number like you would your credit card numbers.
You can also file consumer complaints about phone scams with the FCC or the FTC. Read the FCC Complaint Center FAQ to learn more about the FCC's informal complaint process, including how to file a complaint, and what happens after a complaint is filed.
* The FCC does not endorse any commercial product or service.