Columbus, OH (December 19, 2017) – It isn’t uncommon for telemarketers to target seniors by pretending to be representatives of well-known insurance or healthcare companies. Recently, BBB has received reports of older consumers getting anonymous phone calls and cards from companies offering back and knee braces.
BBB Serving Central Ohio is alerting elderly and disabled residents and their caregivers to beware of unsolicited phone calls and cards from unscrupulous people looking to bill Medicare and insurance for back braces, neck braces and knee braces.
“I’m not always there when my mother gets these calls, but back and knee braces are sent regularly to our home,” said one Columbus man.
“Sending them back is almost impossible because when I contact the companies they say they can’t send me a shipping label without the doctor’s name. Her doctor didn’t order these braces, so we’re stuck with the brace and a charge on her Medicare statement…I called Medicare, they didn’t have any suggestions. I called my insurance company and they said they’d look into it. That’s when I called BBB.”
How the Ploy Works
You answer the phone, and it’s someone pretending to be a Medicare representative. From there, the telemarketer will either offer you a brace through Medicare or claim a caregiver previously called about receiving a brace from Medicare.
If interest is shown, the telemarketer will then ask for personal information, such as your Social Security number or Medicare number to access benefits. The callers offer no company name and may even hang up on you if you ask for their contact information. Don’t fall for this, even if the caller seems sincere or is persistent.
BBB offers the following tips to protect yourself from unnecessary healthcare offers:
Never give out personal information over the phone, especially if it is from an unsolicited caller. If consumers receive a suspicious phone call, they should hang up immediately and report it to BBB.
Don’t do business with door-to-door or telephone salespeople who tell you medical services or equipment are free.
Remind elderly family members that Medicare will never call to ask for sensitive personal financial information. Medicare, Medicaid and the Social Security Administration will not call you to update information or issue a new card.
Give your insurance/Medicare identification only to those who have provided you with medical services like a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital, but never over the phone.
Keep accurate records of all health care appointments to prevent fraud involving Medicare/Medicaid information provided to doctors or caregivers.
BBB would like to remind consumers that Medicare should already have your information. If Medicare or another government agency contacts you, they should have your name and address. A call asking if you are in pain or would like a brace is most likely blasted out to thousands of phone numbers. Treat your Medicare number like your credit card information or other personal details. Do not share it with unsolicited callers.
Report Medicare Fraud to the Office of the Inspector General at the US Department of Health and Human Services.
To learn more about scams, or to report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker.
For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 167 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Central Ohio, which was founded in 1921 and serves 21 counties in Central Ohio.