On November 6, 2015, a Hawaii senior called the Hawaii Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) to report a phone call she received. The caller said she represented a physician referral company and they had a “new medical package” for her. They needed her credit card number in order to ship the package to her. The senior became suspicious and hung up. She called 1-800-MEDICARE to find out what they knew about the phone number on her caller ID. Medicare told her to call SMP Hawaii.
October 15-December 7 is the Medicare Open Enrollment period. Unfortunately, it also is open season for scammers to prey on seniors. On October 1, 2015, SMP Hawaii published a bulletin, LOOKING OUT FOR YOU: Medicare Open Enrollment Scams, to alert seniors and other persons with Medicare about tactics scammers might use against them. The bulletin is posted on this website at https://smphawaii.org/medicare-fraud/looking-out-for-you-bulletins/.
On November 5, 2015 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a warning to consumers about Medicare Open Enrollment scams. The FTC said one of the schemes to watch out for is: “Dishonest companies may offer you free medical exams or supplies. Be wary. It may be a trick to get and misuse your personal information.” The blog is posted at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/medicare-open-enrollment-scams.
Just like the FTC warning, the call to the Hawaii senior baited her with something “free.” Yet they asked her for money. To get the “free” item, she had to give her credit card number to cover shipping. Fortunately, our senior did not give the stranger access to her credit card account. She did the wise thing; she hung up. But she had questions: Is the business legit? How did they get her name and number? Why did the caller ask for her VISA number instead of another type of credit card. If they were offering a “new” medical package, did she have an old medical package? What’s in the package? SMP Hawaii will try to get answers.
Hawaii Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP Hawaii): To report Medicare or other health care scams, call (808) 586-7281 or toll free at 1-800-296-9422.
Hawaii State Health Insurance Assistance Program (Hawaii SHIP): For counseling about Medicare plan options, call (808) 586-7299, toll free 1-888-875-9229, or TTY 1-866-810-4379.