CMS warns of new Part D scam variant

June 19, 2006 at 9:59 AM
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WASHINGTON, June 19 (UPI) -- Medicare issued a new Part D scam warning Thursday, saying it has received nearly 250 complaints from defrauded seniors.

A variant of the so-called $299 Ring scam, the subject of an earlier Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services warning, it involves callers posing as insurance-company representatives and asking for $379, $365 or $350 in exchange for enrollment in a drug plan, or sometimes a new Medicare card. Callers may use the names of fictitious companies, such as Pharma Corp., National Medical Office, Medicare National Office and National Medicare.

"To protect all people with Medicare from being victimized, we are taking further steps to prevent, identify and help law enforcement officials apprehend these scam artists," said CMS Administrator Mark McClellan.

Seniors are becoming savvier in dealing with scammers, CMS said. The reported incidence of people with Medicare actually handing their banking information over has decreased from 51 percent of the cases reported between Nov. 15, 2005, and April 30, 2006, to 25 percent between May 1, 2006, and June 7, 2006.

It is against Medicare's rules to call a beneficiary to ask for bank account or other personal information, or cash payment, over the telephone, and no beneficiary should ever provide that kind of information to someone who calls them, CMS reminded seniors. Such calls must be placed by the beneficiaries themselves or handled by a follow-up letter to which the beneficiary may choose to reply.

Beneficiaries who think they may be victims can call the CMS 1-877-7SAFERX hotline.

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