Fraud prevention: Offers for ‘free’ medical equipment may prove costly

The following is from the AARP Fraud Watch Network

Fraud Prevention: Offers for “free” medical equipment may prove costly

Medicare provides millions of beneficiaries with access to needed durable medical equipment at no cost. But when Medicare reaches out to offer something for free, it is not Medicare reaching out at all. Enter the scammers.
How The Scam Works
• You receive an unsolicited communication from a Medicare representative with an offer for a free medical device, such as a back brace or custom orthotics.
• Even if you say you don’t need the device, the “representative” will strongly encourage you to accept it, since, after all, it’s “free.”
• The caller will ask you for your Medicare number to process the benefit.

What You Should Know
• Providing your Medicare number for a “free” Medicare product, test or service supports the multibillion-dollar Medicare fraud industry, wherein Medicare pays fraudulent claims or someone pretending to be you gets health care.
• Any equipment you receive — if you receive it — is likely a cheap version of the product, such as an ankle wrap instead of custom shoe inserts.
• Someone impersonating you for medical visits and procedures can taint your Medicare health records — a potentially dangerous outcome to your well-being.
• Medicare or a Medicare representative will never call you unless you’ve called first and left a message for them to return your call.
• A Medicare health or drug plan may call you if you are already a member of that plan.
What You Should Do
• Do not engage with any out-of-the-blue communication seeking your Medicare number.
• Protect your Medicare number, and only provide it to your own personal health providers when needed.
• Carefully review your Medicare Summary Notice or Explanation of Benefits to identify any surprise services, tests or equipment.
• Contact your provider if you see unexpected charges, and if you suspect fraud, contact 1-800-MEDICARE (633-4227).

• If you find your Medicare number has been used fraudulently, create an identity recovery plan at at www.identitytheft.gov.

Do you think you have been targeted or have experienced a scam? Contact the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 1-877-908-3360.