N.D. Poolman Cautions Against Medicare Scams

July 5, 2006

North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Jim Poolman warned seniors and other Medicare recipients to be on the look out for telephone scams. Callers, posing as representatives of fictitious companies such as Pharma Corp., National Medical Office, Medicare National Office and National Medicare, are asking for bank information or telling beneficiaries they can provide a new Medicare card for a fee. Callers asked Medicare beneficiaries for bank account numbers that the callers use to electronically withdraw the money. The new Medicare card or prescription drug plan they claim to be selling is not legitimate.

“Although these scams do not appear to be widespread in North Dakota, it is really important for seniors and other Medicare recipients to be aware of these scams and to do what they can to protect themselves,” Poolman said.

The dollar amount requested by scammers is usually $379, but cases have also occurred where the callers asked for $350 or $365. Nationally, nearly 250 cases like this have been referred to federal law enforcement officials.

“Remember that it is against Medicare’s rules to call a person with Medicare and ask for bank account or other personal information, or cash payment, over the telephone. No beneficiary should ever provide that kind of information to someone who calls them. Such calls must be placed by the beneficiaries themselves or handled by a follow-up letter to which the beneficiary may choose to reply. If a senior gets a call like this, they should immediately call the North Dakora Insurance Department at (888) 575-6611 and report it,” Poolman said.

Poolman said Medicare beneficiaries can take steps to protect themselves by remembering that: no one can come into your house uninvited; no one can ask you for personal information during their marketing activities; and, to remember to keep all personal information, such as your Medicare number, safe, just as you would a credit card or a bank account number.

Legitimate Medicare drug plans will not ask for payment over the telephone or the Internet. They must send a bill to the beneficiary for the monthly premium.

Beneficiaries can pay automatically by setting up a monthly withdrawal from their Social Security check. Beneficiaries may also pay by monthly check or set up an automatic withdrawal from a bank account, but beneficiaries must call their plan or respond to a mailed payment request from the plan to do this.

Source: North Dakota Insurance Department

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