Common Scams: Report Medicare Scams – Iowa Fraud Fighters
Medicare insurance is an investment in your health. The Senior Health Insurance Information Program provides unbiased advice on the best Medicare plans for your unique needs. Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP), like SHIIP, falls under the Iowa Insurance Division and helps Iowans spot and report Medicare scams.
It is important to be aware of the most common scams Iowans are facing and report Medicare fraud.
Whenever it is time to renew or enroll in Medicare, Medicaid or other government health plans, con artists may email or call you, or even come to your home. These scammers try to enroll Iowans in false or inappropriate Medicare coverage plans and collect your personal financial information in the process.
Medicare is charged on your behalf for services, procedures or products you did not receive. These charges appear on your statements from Medicare. Recent scams have involved braces and genetic testing. False billings increase the cost of insurance, and it is important to report Medicare scams and inappropriate charges to Senior Medicare Patrol.
Fraudsters send Medicare mailings that mimic actual Medicare mailings in order to steal your personal financial information and Medicare number. If any mailing you receive looks suspicious, report it to your Iowa SHIIP and SMP counselors to investigate.
Often a caller falsely states they are from Medicare and wishes to provide you with a “new” or “updated” Medicare card. During the call they request your Medicare number and personal financial information. Remember, Medicare has your number and will never call and ask you for it. The other way this common scam occurs is when a wallet is lost. Leave your Medicare card at home unless you are going to the doctor.
Common Consumer Scams
Investment and insurance scams aren’t the only things an Iowa Fraud Fighter needs to guard against. Be prepared to prevent and report consumer fraud. The Iowa Attorney General's Office (AG) is your resource to report common scams impacting consumers.
The AG’s mantra is: Stop, Think and Call. Don’t make quick decisions based on emotions. Ask for the offer in writing and sleep on it. Think it over and talk it over with someone you trust.
Call the Iowa Attorney General’s Office to help you investigate if the offer is legitimate or if it is a common scam. Fraudsters will have a harder time conning you out of your money if you proactively research common consumer scams in your area.
Scam artists troll legitimate listings for properties and products and use them to post new, false listings with new contact information and a lower price. The scammers often reply with a poorly written email requesting a wire transfer or debit card for payment.
Charity scammers may mislead donors and divert funds from charitable operations by using sound-alike names or claiming connections to well-known charities or causes.
A phone or online scam where con artists pose as technical support employees requesting remote access to your computer to fix a virus or download software to improve your computer. They use the access to steal personal information or cause damage. They often attempt to charge you a ransom fee for “fixing” your computer.
Con artists send you a check, ask you to cash it and wire the money back to them. Often referred to as Nigerian check scams, the scammer might offer to let you keep some of the money from cashing the check. These checks bounce because they are fake, and you are held responsible for the funds withdrawn.
This common phone scam claims the IRS is filing suit against you for owed taxes or threatens to send police to your residence if you do not pay a specific amount using prepaid cards. Remember, the IRS will notify you by mail, not by phone, if it is transferring an outstanding debt to a private collection agency.
These are used to coerce money from older Iowans by con artists who pretend to be a grandchild calling from a foreign country in desperate need of money to get out of jail or some other urgent trouble. They may try to keep you from calling other family members to confirm where your grandchildren are by saying they are too scared or embarrassed to tell their parents.
When there has been a damaging weather event, such as a flood or tornado, scammers pretend to be contractors or home repair specialists while selling home evaluations and repairs in affected areas. Once payments have been made, they disappear without providing the repair services that were paid for.
Someone you may know, or a scammer, uses your personal information to open accounts, file taxes or make purchases. Consider freezing your credit.
Fraudsters charge an entry fee for sweepstakes or contests, or con artists sell international or out-of-state lottery tickets to Iowans. They typically seek advance payment of taxes or fees before they promise to send a prize that never arrives or a check that bounces. If you must pay a fee to receive your winnings, it’s a scam.
Fraudsters may guarantee to get you a loan modification or prevent home foreclosure if you pay a fee or pay your mortgage payments to the scammer instead. Watch out if they suggest transferring your deed or title or tell you not to speak to your lender or an attorney.
Con artists conduct online scams to strike up romantic relationships, often through social media or online dating sites, to coerce money from victims, often for travel expenses to visit the victim or for hardships the perpetrators claim they are experiencing.
Some scammers imitate legitimate telemarketers to pressure you into providing personal financial information or your Social Security number.
Scam companies promise a big income and “opportunities” that will allow you to work from home if you buy their starter kits or pay for certifications. Many are pyramid schemes and may simply continue pressuring you to buy more services.