How To Recognize and Deal with Medicare Scam Calls

Learn how to spot and handle Medicare scam calls and what to do if you've already shared your medical information to someone you shouldn’t have.
We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

Have you ever received a call about your Medicare health benefits, but something didn’t seem quite right? Criminals often use Medicare scam calls to steal private information needed for medical identity theft. The consequences of these attacks can range from financial loss to erroneous medical records.

Using a strong identity protection tool is the first step to securing your benefits. Next, you'll need to learn more about these attacks: how to recognize, avoid, and recover from them. Follow along as we guide you through the basics of Medicare scams and recommend the best identity theft prevention services.

In this article
What are Medicare scams?
How do Medicare scams work
What can scammers do with your private info?
What are the most common Medicare scams?
How to recognize a Medicare scam
How to deal with Medicare scammers
What to do if scammers have your info
Medicare scams FAQ
Bottom line

What are Medicare scams?

Medicare scams are criminal schemes designed to steal private medical information from Medicare beneficiaries (usually their Medicare or Social Security numbers). Criminals can then use this info to file fraudulent Medicare claims. If successful, they can claim numerous benefits in your name, including health care services and prescription drugs.

How do Medicare scams work

Medicare scammers usually rely on phishing attacks to trick you into sharing your private info. They tend to ramp up their activity during the yearly enrollment period between October 15 and December 7. Since eligible individuals already have the topic on their minds, a call from another health insurance provider won't raise any suspicion.

Fortunately, all Medicare scams require your cooperation to succeed; you have to share your info willingly, click a malicious link, or give scammers what they need in some other way. Staying vigilant can help you identify these schemes before it’s too late.

All phishing scams share the same basic anatomy. They consist of these three main parts.

Initial contact

Fake Medicare providers can contact you via email, text message, phone call, postal mail, or even door-to-door. Each message or call will feature a phishing hook to attract you or create a sense of urgency. The Social Security Administration will never call, text, or show up on your doorstep uninvited.

Building trust

Phishers will usually impersonate Medicare agents to build trust with you. They'll enhance their attack by personalizing their approach. They can harvest your data online, including your name, address, phone number, and even the last four digits of your SSN. Criminals can also alter their phone numbers to make them similar to government numbers. They even create elaborate websites, emails, and print materials to make their operation seem legitimate.

Stealing your information

As the scammer attempts to gain your trust, they weave a convincing narrative to coax information from you. If the criminal plays their role convincingly, they’ll trick you into giving up highly sensitive and valuable personal information.

What can scammers do with your private info?

Medicare scammers will try to steal as much personally identifiable information (PII) as possible. Their primary targets include your Medicare number, SSN, financial and insurance info, and login credentials. They can then use your PII to commit various types of lucrative fraud.

Here are some examples of what criminals can do with your info.

  • Medical identity theft: This crime can result in bills for medical services you didn't receive, higher insurance premiums, legal issues, loss of benefits, and credit score damage due to unpaid bills. Worst of all, if scammers receive medical treatments in your name, their conditions will enter your medical records. In other words, medical identity theft can lead to potentially dangerous medical errors.
  • Account takeover: With your login credentials, scammers can lock you out of important accounts. This can include your email, social media profiles, bank and credit card accounts, utility and phone accounts, and much more.
  • Opening new bank/loan accounts: Criminals can take out loans in your name, open new bank accounts, and apply for credit cards. These actions usually go unnoticed until the victim receives credit reports or calls from creditors.
  • Tax fraud: The main goal of tax identity theft is to file false tax returns and claim fraudulent tax refunds. Again, victims usually find out about this attack when they receive an IRS notice about unreported income.
  • Employment fraud: Also known as employment identity theft, this scam occurs when a criminal uses your info to apply for a job. This attack can cause tax problems, loss of government benefits, legal issues, and even impact your credit score.
  • Government benefits fraud: Scammers can claim your government benefits, such as unemployment or disability.
  • Criminal activity: Criminals can commit crimes in your name and leave you with hefty fines or even an arrest warrant. They can also sell your info on the dark web to other bad actors.

What are the most common Medicare scams?

The most common hooks and tactics used by Medicare scammers include:

  1. Offering a cheaper or better plan: Scammers will try to convince you that you're eligible for a better plan. The said plan will be far above anything other Medicare providers can offer. Naturally, they'll ask for your private info to confirm your eligibility.
  2. Free/discounted services or items: These hooks can include free or discounted medical supplies/care, prescriptions, genetic testing, and additional screenings.
  3. New Medicare cards: There have been instances where new Medicare cards are released (to combat identity theft, ironically), and scammers try to leverage this history to trick you into thinking it’s time to get a new card. They'll often mention "new chip technology" or simply tell you your card is outdated.
  4. Loss of Medicare coverage: This hook will create a false sense of urgency by claiming that your Medicare benefits are about to be canceled. (This can never happen as long as you're paying your premiums.)
  5. Refunds/rebate offers: Fraudsters will ask you to pay a fee before you receive hefty refunds or rebates. The more sinister version will request your private info to "verify your identity and process your refund."

How to recognize a Medicare scam

One of the best ways to avoid Medicare scams is to learn how to recognize a phishing attack. Here are some of the most common red flags.

Unexpected calls from an unknown number

Government agencies won't call you out of the blue to discuss Medicare eligibility or anything else; they'll generally send you a physical statement before they call you.

We recommend ignoring phone calls from unknown numbers. If you take the call and the caller starts talking about amazing Medicare benefits you can claim, just hang up.

PII requests

PII requests are always a red flag, even if they only want your email address. Renowned services and agencies usually don't operate that way. The good rule of thumb is never to share your private info over the phone, email, or text messages.

Pressure tactics

As mentioned, fraudsters can create a false sense of urgency to rush you into making a mistake. They can start their scam like this or transition into it if their original hook doesn't work.

Some common examples include limited-time offers, threats of legal action, the risk of losing benefits, imminent account closure, and more. Remember that government agencies will never call to threaten you or browbeat you into submission.

Pressure to change your plan

During Medicare's annual Open Enrollment period, scammers will try to convince you to change your plan based on false information. Standard hooks include false claims of plan discontinuation, fear of missing out (FOMO), technological upgrades, discounts, fear of legal non-compliance, and much more.

How to deal with Medicare scammers

If you suspect a possible Medicare scam, follow these suggestions.

  • Never share PII with anyone. As mentioned, it's always best to ignore requests for your private information. Some potential victims tend to interact with scammers, trying to outsmart them. We don't recommend this since identity theft is a full-time job for these criminals.
  • Never click on links in emails or texts. Links in phishing messages can contain malware and infect your system.
  • Never call phone numbers listed in emails or texts. These numbers will usually lead to fake support teams looking to steal your information.
  • Don’t speak to anyone who tries to discuss your Medicare plan. Instead, you can call the official Medicare phone line at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). If you receive pushback about ending the call to dial the official phone line, you’re likely speaking to a scammer.
  • Don’t worry about threats and scare tactics. You can't lose your Medicare benefits unless you miss your payments, claim fraudulent activity, move out of the coverage area, and some other specific scenarios. If you’re unsure, you can always call Medicare or log in to your Medicare account to make sure everything is in order.
  • Don’t give anyone your old Medicare card. Some scammers will try to get ahold of it. Do not hand it over, no matter what they say. We recommend destroying it so it can’t fall into the wrong hands.

What to do if scammers have your info

A Medicare scam can quickly turn into identity theft, so you should act immediately. Follow the steps below to protect yourself from possible identity theft.

  1. Report the scam to Medicare. You can call Medicare directly at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or visit the official Reporting Medicare Fraud and Abuse page. Have your Medicare information ready as well as the details of the scam incident.
  2. File a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Visit the FTC website to file an official identity theft report. This step is essential for disputing fraudulent activity or charges scammers can make while using your identity.
  3. Contact your bank(s) to inform them of potential fraud. You may need to open new accounts, but at least you’ll prevent the scammers from draining your funds.
  4. Freeze your credit. This action will prevent anyone from taking out loans or opening new accounts in your name.
  5. Install identity theft prevention software. Take a proactive stance against further scams with solid identity protection tools.

What are the best identity theft prevention services?

Even if you adopt the best cybersecurity practices, your info could still leak online due to a large-scale data breach. These tools can help you with that and also automate the essential aspects of your identity theft protection.

  • Aura is the perfect choice for users looking for a well-rounded identity theft protection service. In addition to safeguarding your private data, Aura includes spam call and message protection, fraud remediation, data removal services, and more.

    Get Aura | Read Aura Review

  • Norton LifeLock provides some unique features, including home title monitoring and 401(k) and investment account activity alerts. Norton LifeLock also offers identity theft coverage of up to $3 million in its Ultimate Plus plan.

    Get Norton LifeLock | Read Norton LifeLock Review
  • Identity Guard leverages the power of IBM Watson artificial intelligence (AI) to automatically monitor your credit and report fraudulent activity. It offers up to $1 million in identity theft insurance and even includes some extras like a safe browsing tool and a password manager.

    Get Identity Guard | Read Identity Guard Review

Medicare scams FAQ


+

Can someone steal my identity with my Medicare number?

Yes, criminals can commit medical identity theft with your Medicare number. They can file fraudulent health care claims, receive health care services, and even gain access to prescription drugs — all in your name.


+

How to avoid Medicare scams?

Never discuss or share your PII with anyone who calls you, messages you, or shows up at your doorstep. Scammers will usually be interested in your Medicare number, SSN, street address, login credentials, or financial information. Note that Medicare will never call without prior notification. Also, get in the habit of not clicking suspicious links, opening sketchy emails, or picking up unknown phone calls.


+

Will Medicare ever call you?

Medicare will only call you in a few specific instances. They will never call or visit you to sell you anything, alter or cancel your Medicare plan, or request personal information. Medicare will contact you if you’ve asked for their help, but they won't need additional information from you as they have all of it on file.

Bottom line

Medicare scammers attempt to trick beneficiaries into giving up valuable PII — like their Medicare numbers — to commit medical identity theft. To avoid these scams, remember that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services will never call you without prior notice. Avoid talking to anyone who asks for your private information and never click links in emails and texts.

If you suspect you’ve given personal information to a scammer, report it to Medicare and the FTC, notify your bank, and freeze your credit. We also recommend exploring the best identity theft prevention services to stay protected from data theft.

4.9
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Aura Identity Theft's website
Identity Protection
Aura Identity Theft
Up to 68% off Family Annual Plans
  • Excellent identity theft protection service
  • Includes a password manager and VPN
  • Robust tools for children’s security
  • Provides VantageScore and not FICO score updates

Author Details
Juliana Kenny is a seasoned writer with over 14 years of experience writing for cybersecurity topics. Holding a B.A. in both English and French, her work explores the convergence of security and technology. She specializes in endpoint security, cloud security, and networking technologies like secure access service edge (SASE).