Open Enrollment scams abundant during Medicare/Medicaid open enrollment

Medical identity theft could result in losing access to health benefits
Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 1:47 PM CST
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InvestigateTV - As millions of Americans go through open enrollment for Medicare and Medicaid experts warn of a popular form of imposter fraud where scammers scheme to steal critical health information.

Kathy Stokes, who runs the Fraud Watch Network for AARP, said con artists use fake caller ID names and numbers to impersonate Medicare or popular healthcare organizations in order to steal your information and sell it on the dark web to the highest bidder.

“Specifically with Medicare, it’s basically trying to get a Medicare beneficiary to believe something that’s not true—in order to convince them to give their Medicare number to you,” Stokes said. “We really have to focus on not engaging to begin with because they’re that good. Once we engage, it could be game over!”

The AARP shared testimonies from people who contacted their fraud hotline. Complaints included scammers offering fake gifts and posing as Medicare agents. In separate instances victims turned over social security numbers and credit info to fraudulent callers.

Hilary Donnell works for Aura, a digital safety company. She’s heard from victims of medical identity theft who have lost more than $13,000 dollars in fake medical bills.

Donnell says in some of the worst cases this scam can also affect a victim’s health.

“Medical identity theft can result in the victim losing access to their health benefits, facing delays in getting critical care or even getting a misdiagnosis or the wrong treatment plan because of a medical history that was created by a scammer and that isn’t real for that victim,” Donnell explained. “These scams can affect anybody and they can take a variety of different forms. Hackers are becoming more and more sophisticated in an effort to convince you to fall victim to this scam.”

Before you give out your health care information, experts like Donnell said think about what you’re doing and don’t be afraid to hang up the phone.

If you have been contacted by a suspicious person, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services says you can report any concerns about potential fraud by calling 1-800-633-4227.