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Fraud Fighting Team Warns Seniors...Again
September 30, 2005
Attorney General Steven Rowe, AARP Maine and TRIAD joined together today to warn senior consumers about potential fraud and identity theft by scam artists hoping to take advantage of the new Medicare-Part D Prescription Drug Benefit.
Beginning on January 2, 2006 the new, voluntary benefit will become available to Maine seniors with Medicare. This coverage will be provided by 18 Medicare approved private companies in Maine, but there are already scams being reported across the country where seniors are contacted either by telephone or in person by someone offering to sell them a benefit card. The sales pitch includes telling the seniors that these cards will be mandatory and they ask for personal information under the guise of registering people for the new program.
Attorney General Rowe said, "Mainers are already receiving fraudulent prescription discount drug calls. One senior in Southern Maine was recently tricked into giving her checking account number and almost immediately lost $299 from her bank account. The rule to always follow is: if the caller asks for your checking account number, your social security number, or your credit card number, hang up."
Beginning October 1, 2005, approved Medicare Part-D companies can begin telemarketing, although door-to-door selling is strictly prohibited. At no time, now or in the future, can any company enroll a senior over the phone. Therefore, anyone trying to sign up a senior over the phone is definitely a scam artist.
"As the new laws take effect, Mainers need to sit down at their kitchen tables and do the math: will this new program help them with their drug costs or not?" said Jud Dolphin, State Director for AARP. "And then they need to check out the company to ensure that they are legitimate. This is the best way to avoid fraud and identity theft," he said.
The group recommends some simple steps any consumer should take to avoid fraud:
- Don' t give out ANY personal information over the phone
- Demand written materials from telephone solicitors
- Don't pay any money to apply for a plan - NO plan should have an application fee
You CANNOT sign up before NOVEMBER 15, 2005
Contact your AAA before you make any plan decisions, 1-877-353-3771 or call 1-800-Medicare or go to www.medicare.gov to ensure the plan you are signing up for is an approved plan.
If you suspect that you have been a victim of a scam, call the Attorney General Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-436-2131, or email email@example.com.
CHARLES DOW, ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE, 207-626-8577 PHYLLIS COHN, AARP, 791-3903 RICKER HAMILTON, DHHS, 822-2150