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Look out for prescription drug plan scams, AG Cooper warns seniors

Release date: 9/29/2005

Scammers may masquerade as part of new Medicare drug program

Raleigh: Attorney General Roy Cooper today encouraged consumers to watch out for con artists who may try to use the new Medicare prescription drug program to take seniors’ money.

“Both the good health and the wallets of our seniors are at stake,” said Cooper. “We should all be on the look out for con artists who will use this new prescription drug program to take advantage of seniors.”

Approximately 1.2 million North Carolinians participate in Medicare. Many of these consumers will be bombarded with prescription drug plan offers starting next week including some that could come from scammers rather than legitimate insurance companies, Cooper warned.

Companies that have been authorized by Medicare to offer prescription drug benefits can begin marketing their plans October 1. Seniors can sign up for plans starting November 15. The drug program, often called Medicare Part D, is slated to begin January 1, 2006.

Enrollment is voluntary and signing up for a plan is free. Medicare estimates that seniors who choose to sign up will pay $32 a month on average for coverage.

Cooper encouraged Medicare participants to keep the following facts in mind when considering signing up for a prescription drug benefit plan:

  • Medicare has approved 16 organizations to offer prescription drug plans in North Carolina. These companies are listed on Medicare’s website: www.cms.hhs.gov/map/charts/chart1NC.pdf . Contact Medicare at www.medicare.gov or 1-800-MEDICARE if you have questions about a company that contacts you.

     

  • Beware of high pressure sales tactics and anyone who tries to force you to make a “now or never” decision. Legitimate Medicare sales plans are not allowed to sell door-to-door or send unsolicited emails. They can make telephone calls but must abide by North Carolina’s Do Not Call law.

     

  • Watch out for scammers who want to steal your identity. Never give out your Social Security Number or bank account number to anyone who calls you or solicits your business. Legitimate companies shouldn’t ask you to share any personal identifying information by phone or email.

     

  • Be careful how you pay. Unless you’re adding the drug coverage to an existing Medicare health plan, a company cannot enroll you or ask you to pay for a plan over the phone. If you enroll online, legitimate Medicare providers will send you a bill in the mail. Anyone who tries to get you to pay for a plan online may be trying to steal your personal information.