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Since older Americans are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus (COVID-19), we want to remind Medicare beneficiaries to be vigilant and take precautions to avoid falling victim to health care fraud during this pandemic. We’re warning Medicare beneficiaries that scammers may try to use this pandemic to steal their Medicare number, banking information, or other personal data.

Unfortunately, scammers take advantage of the most vulnerable people during times of uncertainty and change. You must protect yourself by making sure you give your Medicare number only to your doc- tor, pharmacist, hospital, health insurer, or other trusted health care provider.

If someone calls you on the phone, say- ing they’re from Medicare, and asks for

your Medicare number or other person- al information – just hang up. Medicare representatives will never:

• Call beneficiaries to ask for or to “verify” Medicare numbers.

• Call to sell you anything.

• Promise you things if you give them a Medicare number.

• Visit you at your home.

• Call you to enroll you in a Medicare program over the phone, unless you called us first.

Medicare cards no longer have Social Security numbers on them, to reduce fraud and protect beneficiaries from identity theft.

Even with this change, you should guard your Medicare card like you would a credit card. Be sure to check your Medicare claim summaries for errors and questionable bills.

To protect yourself against scams

Just hang up

Scammers are always finding new ways to steal your money and personal information by exploiting your fears.

The most effective way to defeat scammers is to know how to identify scams and to ignore suspicious calls and emails. See the list at upper right for some tips.

One common tactic scammers use is posing as federal agents and other law enforcement.

They may claim your Social Security number is linked to a crime. They may even threaten to arrest you if you do not comply with their instructions.

Here are three things you can do:

• Hang up right away or do not reply to the email.

• Never give personal information, money, or retail gift cards.

• Report the scam at oig.ssa.gov immediately to Social Security’s law enforcement team at the Office of the Inspector General.

You should continue to remain vigilant of phone calls when someone says there’s a problem with your Social Security number or your benefits.

If you owe money to Social Security, we will mail you a letter explaining your rights, payment options, and information about appealing.

If you do not have ongoing business with our agency, it is unlikely we will contact you.

Again, if you get a suspicious call claiming to be from Social Security, you should hang up and report it right away to our Office of the Inspector General at oig.ssa.gov.

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