Scams are nothing new, and ones that target the elderly and vulnerable are particularly widespread and dangerous. It’s important that we shed light on these scams when we run across them to protect others from falling into a trap that could cost them tons of emotional and financial pain.
The latest scam is one that targets Medicare patients, especially those who have diabetes and the elderly. Here’s how it works.
A scammer calls up a victim and pretends to be with a well-known entity like the U.S. government or Medicare, or they may claim to be from a diabetes association. The caller will offer to send free supplies to help the person with whatever is ailing them. For patients with diabetes, the offer may be a free glucose meter, lancets, or foot care products. For the elderly, things like heating pads, lift seats, foot orthotics, and joint braces may be suggested. The caller may sound very professional, but it’s all a part of the game.
If the “customer” sounds the least bit interested or willing to cooperate, the caller will then try to get them to give their Medicare card number and other personal and financial information, claiming that it’s needed in order to sign the person up to get their free supplies. If they get this information, however, the caller will happily use it to steal from their victims.
If you receive a call of this nature, be wary of it. Do not provide any information. Try to remember everything you can about the call, such as the phone number and the organization the person claimed to be with, so you can report it appropriately later. If you are concerned that someone may have already scammed you, keep a close eye on your Medicare bills and any other notices you receive. Do not accept any items you did not order.
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The Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services warns anyone who gets a call of this nature to report it by calling the OIG Hotline at 1-800-HHS-TIPS.
It can be embarrassing to admit that you’ve been a victim of a scam, but it’s important that we spread the word about our experiences so that more people don’t have to deal with the same harrowing situation.
Don’t be a victim of this scam! Don’t let anyone you know be a victim either. Share now to help others stay aware of the scams that they could otherwise fall for.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?