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Scam alert issued for Medicare beneficiaries

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013 12:06 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013 12:08 p.m. CDT

Iowa’s Senior Medicare Patrol issued a warning Tuesday that scammers posing as Medicare officials are phoning Iowa’s seniors and attempting to visit them in their homes. 

In reality, the scammers are trying to obtain personal information to commit financial fraud. Their hook is to convince the potential victim that they have new and critical information about their Medicare benefits.   

“Watch out for a caller who says they want to bring details about a new Medicare Summary Notice or deliver a new Medicare card to you,” SMP state coordinator Deb Yankey said. “Medicare officials do not phone seniors to discuss changes and they do not visit your home. It’s shrewd to be rude — hang up the phone and don’t open your door to a stranger.” 

SMP has asked Iowa seniors to call 1-800-423-2449 to report if they receive this type of call, which they will report directly to Medicare. However, seniors who have given out bank information to suspected scammers should immediately call their banks and local law enforcement.

“Senior Medicare Patrol has received approximately 30 calls from individuals stating they have received the type of call noted in this news release,” Aging Resources of Central Iowa SMP coordinator Nancy Anderson said. “We are attempting to educate as many Medicare Beneficiaries as possible of this scam. first and most important thing to do is immediately call your bank and local law enforcement.”

The calls were received by seniors in Polk and Marion counties within the last few days, but it is expected the calls will spread statewide. The scammers have discovered that Medicare will soon be sending a redesigned “Medicare Summary Notice,” which is the explanation of benefits sent to Medicare beneficiaries.

Scammers typically use the occurrence of a change in a government program to design new schemes. Iowans will begin to see the new Medicare notices in their mail over the next several months.

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