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How to protect yourself from COVID-19 scammers

Don't fall for the scams!

CLEVELAND — They’ve been trying to con people into “paying” for COVID-19 vaccines and now that tax time is upon us, they’ll try threatening calls claiming you owe money to the IRS. 

Don’t fall for it. 

The following are tips from Devoted Health benefits advisor, Kent Jacobs, who is based in Cincinnati.

Con artists may try to get your Medicare Number or personal information so they can steal your identity and commit Medicare fraud. Medicare fraud results in higher health care costs and taxes for everyone.

Protect yourself from Medicare fraud. Guard your Medicare card like it’s a credit card. Remember:

  • Medicare will never contact you for your Medicare Number or other personal information unless you’ve given them permission in advance.
  • Medicare will never call you to sell you anything.
  • You may get calls from people promising you things if you give them a Medicare Number. Don’t do it.
  • Medicare will never visit you at your home.
    • Caveat- depending on product type, Medicare rules vary. Best practice- don’t trust or invite any Medicare solicitor into your home.
  • Medicare can’t enroll you over the phone unless you called first.
  • Insurance companies are prohibited from claiming they are recommended or endorsed by CMS, Medicare, or the Department of Health and Human Services
  • Be cautious of anyone claiming to offer “free” benefits. Medicare typically does not approve the usage of the term free. If you have any questions or concerns about benefits, always call Medicare or the insurance company directly for clarity on benefits and copays.

Tips to make sure that scammers don’t get a hold of your personal information:

  • Medicare representatives will never call a beneficiary to confirm Medicare numbers
    • Medicare #s were changed effective January 1, 2020 to reflect a unique id number, not the beneficiary SS
  • Medicare representatives won’t promise you things in exchange for a Medicare number
  • Medicare representatives will not call you to enroll over the phone, unless you called first

 Medicare COVID Scams

Medicare covers the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost to youso if anyone asks you to share your Medicare Number or pay for access to the vaccine, you can bet it’s a scam.

Here’s what to know:

  • You can’t pay to put your name on a list to get the vaccine.
  • You can’t pay to get early access to a vaccine.
  • Don’t share your personal or financial information if someone calls, texts, or emails you promising access to the vaccine for a fee.

What to do if you think you are being scammed:

  • Just hang up and don’t give out personal information
  • Report the scam at the Office of the inspector general oig.ssa.gov
  • Report the call. Report Medicare imposters at 1-800-MEDICARE and ftc.gov/complaint. The more we hear from you, the more we can help fight scams.

Contact your Medicare provider directly if you’d like to verify information.

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Editor's Note: The below story aired on March 9, 2021