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New Medicare phone scam hits home

News from the Area VI Agency on Aging

The state Senior Medicare Patrol is warning of a recent report of an apparent phone scam in Eureka, Montana. Someone was called in an attempt to get personal information under the guise of helping the person with their Medicare. The person’s caller ID showed the phone number of the Area VI Agency on Aging in Polson. We did not call the person. Our office is in high gear during Medicare open enrollment, and people often call us for help, and sometimes give us personal information over the phone. However, we do not initiate any calls unless we have been contacted by the person first. All personal information that people volunteer in order for us to help them is kept under lock and key, and is destroyed after one year has passed with no contact initiated by the client.

The practice of displaying a fake number on caller ID is called “spoofing” and is one of the many new tricks of the crooks trying to steal identification. Do not give any information to a person who initiates the call. If you feel the call may be legitimate, contact the supposed agency by getting their number from a known source and ask about it. Medicare or your local SHIP counselors will never initiate calls asking for personal information on the phone.

Medicare Open Enrollment is prime time for scammers, as people are making changes and looking for help. The Senior Medicare Patrol has the following tips to stop fraud during this time, and all year long:  Medicare will never call or visit and will only send information through the U.S. Postal Service. Guard your Medicare number like a credit card, and only give your Medicare numbers to medical providers. If you receive an unsolicited call from anyone requesting personal information, hang up immediately. If you need help knowing your health care options, get help from your family, the Medicare website, an insurance agent you trust, or the SHIP counselors in your local Agency on Aging.

New Medicare cards with new numbers that do not contain social security numbers will be mailed to beneficiaries between April 2018 and April 2019. They will be automatically mailed, and no one will receive calls. Anyone calling you claiming to need information or cash for your new Medicare card is a fraud. Report any such calls to the Senior Medicare Patrol by calling 1-800-551-3191.

We remain a source for accurate, unbiased information about Medicare, and a place you can turn to for help with Medicare issues. We don’t want a crook pretending to be us to take advantage of you. If you call us first, you can rely on us to keep your private information secure. The Area VI Agency on Aging office is in Polson at 883-7284 or 1-800-266-4188.  The statewide number of 1-800-551-3191 will also put you in contact with the local office. We have four certified SHIP counselors in the office, and also have certified SHIP counselors who live in Lincoln, Mineral, and Sanders counties.

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