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Officials Warn Michigan Seniors To Protect Themselves From Medicare Scams

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With the end of Medicare open enrollment approaching, Michigan officials are warning seniors to protect themselves from potential scams.

The deadline for seniors to change their Medicare plans or their prescription drug plan is Monday, December 7.  According to Anita Fox, the Director of the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services, scammers are using the urgency of the approaching deadline to contact unsuspecting consumers about their Medicare coverage. 

Fox said right now scammers are upping their game when it comes to targeting seniors.

“Seniors are getting phone calls saying, you know, 'we need your personal information, you need to sign up for our plan right now, If you don't sign up you'll lose your Medicare,' none of which are true.”

In some calls, scammers claim to be Medicare representatives and ask consumers for their Medicare ID numbers or other personal information, such as a Social Security number or date of birth. Once the scammers have this information, they can use it to make unauthorized changes to a person's Medicare plan.

Fox said seniors are a particularly vulnerable group during the pandemic, because of the increased communication taking place over the phone between agencies and customers.

"Seniors may think this is their company reaching out in the new way due to the pandemic." She added, "in a time of economic uncertainty or downturn, scammers look for more ways to take advantage of people."

Regardless of whether the caller knows your name, Fox said no reputable company is going to reach out over the phone and ask for your personal information.

"The best message for seniors right now is if you get unsolicited calls about your Medicare plan, don't give out any information, don't trust caller ID, don't trust what they tell you. Doesn't matter if they know your name," Fox added.

She advised people to never give their Medicare number or other personal information to anyone trying to solicit their business over the phone, online, or at their front door.

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community.
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