Mary Loftis is warning the public about the increase in coronavirus-related fraud.
Loftis is a University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension associate.
She’s also a Nebraska State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) counselor.
“SHIP let us know of a potential fraud this week,” Loftis told the Tribune. “A Medicare beneficiary received an unsolicited call from someone selling insurance.”
The caller said Medicare isn’t able to call beneficiaries directly so it’s contracted with outside parties to see if people have all the coverage they need during the pandemic.
“This is not true,” Loftis said. “Don’t fall for it.”
Loftis said scammers use public health emergencies as opportunities for new fraud schemes.
Because older adults are at greater risk for serious illness from COVID-19, they may target older populations.
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At this time, there’s no FDA-approved vaccine for COVID-19.
While there may be treatments for symptoms, there is no cure.
However, scammers often use fear-based tactics to convince people that a vaccine or cure is now being offered.
“It’s also important to remember that while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health officials may contact you if they believe you may have been exposed to the virus, they won’t need to ask you for insurance or financial information,” Loftis said.
Nebraska SHIP recommends that Medicare beneficiaries:
- Contact their own doctor if they are experiencing potential symptoms of COVID-19.
- Do not give out a Medicare number, Social Security number, or personal information in response to unsolicited calls, texts, emails, home visits, or booths at health fairs and other public venues.
If your personal information is compromised, it may be used in other fraud schemes as well.
- Be suspicious of anyone going door to door to offer free coronavirus or COVID-19 testing, supplies or treatments.
- Carefully review any Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) or Explanation of Benefits (EOB), looking for errors or claims for products or services that weren’t received.
- Follow the instructions of state or local government for other actions to be should be taking in response to COVID-19.
- Contact your local Nebraska SHIP for help. Nebraska SHIP helps Medicare beneficiaries, their families and caregivers to prevent, detect, and report health care fraud, errors, and abuse.
The Nebraska SHIP, a division of the Nebraska Department of Insurance, provides unbiased Medicare education and counseling, and helps combat Medicare fraud and abuse.
Those with questions, concerns or complaints about potential Medicare fraud and abuse, should contact their Nebraska SHIP office at 1-800-234-7119.
“As we all know, there are always people out there looking for an easy way to make your money theirs,” Loftis said. “Don’t fall for anyone who calls or even stops at your door offering something in exchange for money or your Medicare or other insurance card information. If they aren’t stealing from you – they are stealing from Medicare and that’s your money too!”