December 6, 2023

Medicare scam calls: How to spot & avoid them

Medicare scam calls: How to spot & avoid them

Robokiller’s research found that health insurance scams were the second most popular category of robocalls during the first half of 2023. Scam calls like these contributed to an estimated $33 billion in consumer losses throughout that time — an increase of $3 billion compared to the same period in 2022. As the financial losses due to phone scams continue to grow, it becomes more important to protect ourselves from fraudsters posing as legitimate services like Medicare.

Approximately 18.7% of Americans depend on Medicare for health services, making it an invaluable resource for millions of people. Unfortunately, dependence has led many phone scammers to adopt Medicare as a disguise for their schemes.

Understanding phone scams is the first step in protecting yourself and your family from their consequences. Read ahead and learn how to recognize and avoid Medicare scam calls.

What are Medicare scams & how do they work?

Medicare scams are a type of phone fraud in which scammers attempt to steal sensitive information from Medicare beneficiaries. They may use several methods, including robocalls, smishing schemes, and phishing emails. By posing as your Medicare provider, scammers leverage your health plan to create a sense of urgency which increase your willingness to cooperate.

With your Medicare information in hand, scammers can sell your data to other criminals on the dark web, file fraudulent claims in your name, or even receive treatment using your coverage. Additionally, they often get away with other private information they can use to access your financial accounts, steal your money, and commit identity theft.

Medicare scams tend to be more active when there’s a change in the Medicare program, during the open enrollment period (October 15 to December 7), and around the time when you become eligible for Medicare (usually your 65th birthday).

7 common Medicare scam calls to be aware of

Medicare scams come in many forms, but being familiar with some of the common variants can help you protect your privacy, identity, and bank account. Get to know these seven common Medicare scam calls so you can tell if you’re being targeted.

1. Medicare coverage cancellation notices

The prospect of losing health coverage gets people to act quickly and take the situation seriously, making it an attractive premise for scammers. In one scam, a caller pretends to be from Medicare and claims your coverage may be cut off due to fraudulent activity, an outstanding balance, or another fake problem. They may ask you to submit personal information or pay a phony charge to keep your coverage.

Medicare won’t call you to tell you your coverage is ending. If there is a problem, you would have received a letter in the mail.

2. Available refunds

Sometimes, scammers steal from you by pretending to give you something back. In a Medicare refund scam, the fraudster claims you’re eligible for a refund or rebate due to changes in your plan. They ask for your Medicare information to supposedly verify your coverage and account.

You’ll never get a (legitimate) phone call offering refunds or discounts through Medicare. You will be notified in writing if there are any changes in your plan, and pricing discrepancies will be reflected in the following month’s balance.

3. More affordable coverage

As a tax-funded government program, Medicare typically has low (or no) premiums. However, that doesn’t stop scammers from peddling fake plans that are allegedly cheaper or in some way better than what you’ve been offered. They may ask for your Medicare number or financial details to “confirm your account” and lock in your discounted price.

Medicare does not engage in telemarketing and will not call to offer you a special deal. If you’re considering Medicare, you can review your coverage options online.

4. New Medicare cards

In 2018, Medicare issued new cards that don’t include the holder’s Social Security number. Although this improves security, it also creates yet another opportunity for scammers. Don’t trust unexpected calls that request your personal, financial, or Medicare information for a new card. If you lose your card, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or log in online to request a new one.

Medicare will not charge you for a new card, nor will they verify your information by phone to issue one. Do not give your Medicare number or financial information to a caller offering a new or upgraded Medicare card.

5. Access to special vaccines or treatments

The hysteria surrounding COVID-19 has declined, but some of the scams that came from the pandemic still persist. One type of Medicare scam call claims you’re eligible for early or special access to new vaccines and treatments. However, you’d have to “verify your eligibility” by revealing your Medicare number or even pay a fee to take advantage of this fake offer.

An unexpected call from Medicare that asks for personal or financial details is a scam. Medicare does not charge people for early or exclusive access to treatment.

6. Appointments for free genetic testing

One Medicare scam call promises free genetic testing through your Medicare coverage — all you have to do is give the caller your Medicare number. When Medicare denies the claim because it wasn’t medically necessary, however, you could owe thousands of dollars.

There is no Medicare promotion involving free genetic testing. This is simply a way for the scammer to steal your Medicare information. Check with your doctor before taking any genetic tests, “free” or otherwise.

7. Free medical supplies or prescription drugs

A common Medicare scam claims you’re eligible for free or discounted medical supplies or prescription drugs through your Medicare coverage. If they know you have a certain condition, they may offer the specific supplies you need. The offer isn’t real, of course, and any information you give away could be used against you.

Medicare typically doesn’t cover at-home medical supplies. Never trust unrealistic offers from unexpected phone calls, and don’t give your Medicare information out over the phone. Talk to your doctor about the best ways to get the medical supplies you need.

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How to recognize a Medicare scam call

Medicare scammers hope to catch you off your guard, but their ploys are less successful when you know how to spot them. If you get an unexpected call that displays the red flags below, it may be a scam.

  • You haven’t initiated contact or received mail: Unless you called them first, Medicare will send a physical letter before they contact you by phone. If you haven’t received a letter or initiated contact yourself, Medicare will not call you.
  • Urgent or threatening language: Under no circumstances will a representative of Medicare raise their voice, use threatening or intimidating language, or otherwise behave unprofessionally. Scammers, however, are known to get frustrated if you question them.
  • Unsolicited requests for personal information: Scammers call without warning and ask for private data like your Medicare information, banking details, and Social Security number. Medicare will never call unexpectedly to ask for personal details.
  • Offers that are too good to be true: Don’t be fooled by extraordinary offers. If you get an unexpected call promising an unbelievable deal, research the offer and phone number online. Never give your financial information to an unexpected caller with a sensational offer.

Does Medicare really contact you by phone or text?

If you receive an unexpected phone call or text message that claims to be from Medicare and asks for personal information, it’s a scam. Medicare does not engage in telemarketing, and they won’t call you unless you’ve called them first.

According to their website, Medicare will only call and ask for personal information under certain circumstances, such as the following:

  • You signed up for a Medicare health or drug plan, and you’re contacted by the agent who registered you
  • You called 1-800-MEDICARE and either left a message or spoke with a representative who said you’d receive a return call
  • You filed a suspected fraud report, and a Medicare representative is following up on the investigation

In each of these cases, you have to initiate the process. Exercise caution when dealing with unexpected calls or texts that claim to be from Medicare.

How to protect yourself against Medicare scam calls

All it takes is one successful scam to have your health insurance compromised, your financial accounts drained, and your identity stolen — so it’s vital to understand how to protect yourself and your family. Follow the tips below to minimize your risk for Medicare scam calls.

  • Screen your calls. Don’t answer the phone if your caller ID reads “Scam Likely” or a similar warning. If the caller leaves a message and claims to be from Medicare, call Medicare back at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) — not the number they leave in the voicemail.
  • Don't share personal information. Refrain from sharing your email address or phone number through social media profiles or elsewhere online. If a caller posing as Medicare asks for sensitive information, hang up and call back at an official number.
  • Stay informed about common scams. Stay up to date with popular Medicare scams so you know what to look out for. Recognizing a scam in action can help you hold your ground.
  • Use call-blocking apps. In the fight against spam and scams, there’s no substitute for a dedicated call-blocking app. Spam blockers like Robokiller intercept dangerous scams and annoying spam calls before they get to your phone, so fraudsters never get the chance to trick you.

Be aware of other common disguises for scammers

Medicare scams specifically target Medicare customers, but fraudsters use the same kinds of techniques and principles across many different industries. Phone scammers pose as legitimate, well-known companies to win your trust and trick you into giving away your personal information.

Be careful when dealing with calls or text messages that claim to be from:

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What to do if you've fallen victim to a Medicare scam call

A successful Medicare scam call can rob you of more than your health coverage, and it helps to know how to respond quickly. Follow the steps below to minimize potential damage.

  • Contact Medicare and notify the government.
    • Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227)
    • Call the Investigations Medicare Drug Integrity Contractor (I-MEDIC) at 1-877-7SAFERX (1-877-772-3379)
    • Submit a complaint to the Office of Inspector General
  • Report the scam to the authorities.
    • Contact your local police and file a report right away
    • Notify the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
    • File a report with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
    • Forward scam texts to 7726 (SPAM)
  • Monitor or freeze your financial accounts.
    • Notify your financial institutions about the situation and determine if you should freeze your accounts and/or cards
    • Regularly check your bank account and credit card statements for fraudulent activity
  • Freeze your credit report.
    • Contact the three major credit-reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) to freeze your credit report and prevent new lines of credit from being opened in your name

Robokiller: Your scam-call defense partner

There are ways to recognize and reduce your risk for phone scams, but no defense is complete without a trustworthy spam blocker like Robokiller.

Robokiller has been on the frontlines of the fight against spam since the beginning, now boasting over $600 million in prevented losses to phone scams. Backed by machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), our unique algorithm is 99% effective in blocking unwanted scam calls and texts. Robokiller provides a robust defense against dangerous phone fraud and is an essential tool for securing your phone and your peace of mind.

Help protect your family from Medicare fraud and phone scams. Start your free 7-day trial of Robokiller today.


Does Medicare make unsolicited phone calls?

No, Medicare does not make unsolicited phone calls. Medicare will never call to ask for personal information unless you’ve initiated contact.

How can I protect elderly family members from Medicare scam calls?

Education and preparation are vital when it comes to preventing phone scams. Teach elderly family members how to recognize the warning signs of a scam and explain the importance of protecting your personal information online. Encourage them to use a reliable spam-blocking app like Robokiller to block Medicare scam calls from getting through.

How can I report a suspected Medicare scam call?

If you received a suspicious call claiming to be from Medicare, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) and submit a complaint to the Office of Inspector General online. If you’ve given away sensitive information, notify local law enforcement and file a police report immediately.

What are the common tactics used in Medicare scam calls?

Medicare scam calls rely on a sense of urgency and air of authority. Fraudsters pose as Medicare and offer fake deals or threaten to revoke your coverage, pressuring you to act before you realize you’re being scammed. They leverage time-sensitive offers or the threat of losing coverage to gain personally identifying information they can later use to steal from you.

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