Medicare open enrollment season is here, which means it is also Medicare fraud season. Between Oct. 15 and Dec. 7, those who have Medicare will be shopping for the best deal for their health care dollar. Unfortunately, some of the deals they will be offered won’t be deals at all.

Medicare scams spike during open enrollment season with scammers posing as impostors calling and emailing beneficiaries offering free gifts or limited time offers. These scams are all designed to capture your Medicare number so the crooks can charge Medicare for services you didn’t receive.

Turn down offers of free medical supplies or equipment in exchange for your Medicare number.

Here are other common scams during open enrollment:

•Someone calls claiming to be from Medicare and says your Medicare number and credit card information are needed to sign you up for health coverage. Hang up the phone. Medicare does not call beneficiaries to sign them up.

•Someone calls saying you have to sign up for a Part D prescription drug plan or you’ll lose your Medicare coverage. Again, hang up the phone. Enrolling in a prescription drug plan is optional and has nothing to do with the rest of your Medicare coverage.

•Someone calls claiming to be a Medicare representative and says your billing information must be confirmed to keep your coverage active. Again, hang up. Medicare employees will not cold-call you and are not allowed to ask for payment information on the phone or online.

•Someone calls asking for your Medicare number to update your account and to send you the latest open enrollment information. Stop. Do not give out your Medicare number or any other personal information over the phone.

•A scammer calls a Medicare beneficiary to notify them that they are owed a refund. Of course, the catch is that you must provide your birth date, Social Security number, bank account and Medicare numbers so the refund can be automatically deposited into your checking account.  Medicare will never call and ask for this information.

Guard your personal information. Treat your Medicare and Social Security numbers like a credit card number or bank account number, and never give these out to a stranger.

The best place to get information about your Medicare coverage or enrollment is either online at Medicare.gov or by calling the Medicare hotline at 800-MEDICARE 800-633-4227.

If you think you have fallen victim to any type of scam, call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360 for guidance and support, or visit the AARP Fraud Watch Network at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork.

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