Common Medicare and Social Security Scams in 2022

Common Medicare and Social Security Scams in 2022

September 21, 2022

There’s no shortage of Medicare and Social Security schemes in 2022. Today, we discuss some of the most common (and sneaky).

2022 Medicare Scams

Scammers want your personal or financial information for the purposes of stealing your identity, your money or submitting fraudulent Medicare claims using your personal information.

In 2021, the Federal Trade Commission fielded almost a million reports about impersonation fraudsters—posing as fake exes, grandchildren in peril, bogus government officials and others—who took almost $2.3 billion from Americans’ savings. According to the FTC, impersonation schemes remain the most-reported fraud.

Tip: For straightforward financial advice from our experts, subscribe to The Adviser You Can Talk To Podcast. Also, receive bi-weekly market trends and analysis of critical investment topics via your inbox when you sign up for our Adviser Fund Update newsletter.

One of the most common scams involves not asking for your credit card or Social Security number, but your Medicare account number. A basic rule of prevention: Any unexpected call, email, text message or outreach on social media asking for personal information should be considered fraudulent.

COVID-19 Tests or Vaccines

Medicare pays for COVID-19 tests and vaccines, therefore, if someone offers you one or both for free, it’s likely a scam.

Tip: As your parents age, it’s likely you’ll become more involved in their financial, mental and physical care. Read our special report, Helping Your Aging Parents, to help prepare for what lies ahead.

Genetic Testing Medicare Scam

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS) recently highlighted a fraud scheme involving genetic testing.

In this scam, Medicare beneficiaries are offered “complimentary” genetic testing in exchange for their Medicare account information. This allows the schemer to perpetrate identity theft or false billing.

According to HHS, “beneficiaries who agree to genetic testing or verify personal or Medicare information may receive a cheek swab, an in-person screening or a testing kit in the mail, even if it is not ordered by a physician or medically necessary.

If Medicare denies the claim, the beneficiary could be responsible for the entire cost of the test, which could be thousands of dollars.”

Tip: Find Medicare costs and enrollment deadlines in one location, download our complimentary special report, Medicare Made Simple.

Protecting Yourself From Genetic Testing Scams

To protect yourself from genetic testing schemes, do the following:

  • Refuse any tests sent to you unless it’s from your doctor. Record the sender’s information and when you returned the test.
  • Be suspicious of anyone who requests your Medicare number and offers you free genetic testing (or anything for free).
  • Treat your Medicare (and Social Security) numbers like your bank account or credit card.

Medicare Equipment Scam Calls

A common Medicare scam includes imposters calling you with a free offer, like a back brace or wheelchair. Also, the caller will often add a sense of urgency, e.g., I’ll need your Medicare number today, since the offer expires tomorrow.

Remember, Medicare won’t call, text or visit you at your home unsolicited. There are only two occasions when a Medicare representative will call you:

  1. A Medicare health or drug plan may call you if you’re already a member of the plan. The agent who helped you join can also call you.
  2. A customer service representative from 1-800-MEDICARE can call you if you’ve called and left a message or a representative said that someone would call you back.

IMPORTANT: Scammers can manipulate caller ID, therefore, don’t trust it uncritically. Even though your phone screen may read “Medicare,” it could still be fraudulent!

New Medicare Card Scam

An imposter from Medicare or a health care agency contacts you and asks for your updated information so they can send you a new Medicare card. If you have a Medicare card, you don’t need a new one, nor should you speak to anyone who says you’ll need to “update your information” in order to get a new card. Another fraud!

In general, watch out for unsolicited Medicare emails and texts demanding your Medicare number or anyone seeking payment by gift card or wire transfers. These are almost certainly scams.

If you believe you’ve been a victim of Medicare fraud, submit a hotline complaint.

Additional Medicare Resources

Check out our popular Medicare podcast and blog posts:

Medicare Made Simple (podcast)

The ABCs of Medicare (Understand what all the Medicare letters mean.)

5 Medicare Enrollment Mistakes

Answers to Popular Medicare Coverage Questions

Fine-Tuning Your Medicare Coverage

2022 Social Security Scams

Thieves want your Social Security number so they can apply for credit using your personal information and buy expensive items, sticking you with a hefty bill.

It’s also likely you won’t know your identity has been stolen until you apply for credit and get turned down or bill collectors start calling you.

Ways Social Security Numbers Get Stolen Include Thieves…

  • Disguising themselves as a legitimate person from a government agency
  • Robbing wallets, purses and postal mail (e.g., bank and credit card statements)
  • Stealing information you provide online. (For added security, ensure “https” is part of the web address before providing personal information online.)

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), the organization “will never threaten, scare or pressure you to take an immediate action.”

Tip: Get detailed answers to your Social Security questions. Read our post, Social Security Resources in ONE Location, and be sure to download our special report, Social Security’s Role in Your Retirement.

Most Social Security scams happen via email, phone or text. According to the SSA, some of the most common SSA scams include:

  • Threats to suspend your Social Security number
  • Arrest or legal action warnings
  • Immediate payment demands
  • Payment requests by gift card, prepaid debit card, internet currency (e.g., cryptocurrency) or by mailing cash

Protecting Yourself From Social Security Fraud

The SSA recommends a few strategies to help protect yourself from Social Security fraud, including:

  • Avoid carrying your Social Security number or card with you
  • Beware of phishing scams (e.g., emails, internet links and phone calls) trying to trick you into revealing your personal information
  • Create a personal my Social Security account to keep track of your records and suspicious activity

Tip: Learn more about the infamous “Pigeon Drop,” a sneaky financial Social Security scheme. Read our post, How to Protect Yourself From Fraud.

Next Steps

To protect yourself from Medicare and Social Security scams be vigilant when presented with unsolicited requests from people you don’t know. Also, if you feel pressured to act quickly, assume it’s a scam.

Ultimately, the best course of action is to only provide your Medicare number to your doctors. And, if you’re simply not sure, start here to find accurate and safe Medicare information.

When prompted for your Social Security number, ask the following three questions:

Why do you need my number?

How will you use it?

What happens if I refuse?


 

Need help navigating the complexities of Medicare and Social Security? Contact Adviser Investments anytime for assistance.


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