The Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit has created yet another opportunity for con artists. Consumer protection officials around the country say they regularly receive complaints from seniors and other consumers who say they were contacted by fake companies claiming that they were "authorized" or "funded" by Medicare to make telephone or door-to-door contact with beneficiaries. Protect yourself by learning the following five scams to watch out for.
1. Membership Required
» This benefit is voluntary and supplements your other Medicare benefits. To participate, you will not be required to pay a membership or join anything.
2. Off-Hours Calling
» Those marketing Medicare drug plans must obey telemarketing laws. This means they can't call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.; when you're phone number is registered on the "do not call" registry; or after you've requested not to be contacted again.
3. Phone & Spam Trolling
» The Social Security Administration doesn't initiate contact by phone or email, much less request your bank account, credit card or life insurance policy numbers.
4. Door-To-Door Sales
» It's illegal for companies or organizations marketing Medicare drug plans to come to your door uninvited or to send you unsolicited emails. Companies and organizations can call to promote their drug plans, but it's illegal for them to sign people up during those calls.
5. Surprise! No Prize
» It's illegal to require anyone to join a drug plan in order to receive a prize or gift.