The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued a warning for seniors and others who are eligible to enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan to be aware of a new phone scheme.
In what's being called the '$299 Ring,' callers try to convince beneficiaries to pay a fee (typically $299) over the phone to enroll in a phony drug plan. The scam preys on the elderly and infirm.
Consumers can report instances to local law enforcement agencies or by calling 877- 772-3379.
CMS says it has received complaints from Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Georgia. The complaints have been made against a number of different companies, but authorities believe the companies are the same and are typically based outside the U.S.
CMS reminds beneficiaries that no Medicare prescription drug plan can ask for their bank account number or other personal information over the phone, so they should never provide this type of information that way. Beneficiaries who suspect someone is trying to swindle money or personal information from them should call the police.
CMS recommends that beneficiaries keep in mind:
' No one can come into your home uninvited.
'No one can ask you for personal information during Medicare drug plan marketing activities.
' Keep personal information (such as your Medicare number) safe, just as you would a credit card or bank account number.
' Whenever you have a question or concern about any activity regarding Medicare, call 1-800-MEDICARE.
Legitimate Medicare drug plans will not attempt to bill seniors over the phone or the Internet but will bill the beneficiary for the plan's monthly premium. The premium typically is set up for automatic withdrawal from the beneficiary's monthly Social Security check. Beneficiaries can also arrange to pay their monthly premiums in other ways, including manually or by automatic withdrawal from a personal account.