KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The open enrollment period for Medicare is underway and scammers are trying to take advantage. Some of the callers claim they’re health care advocates and claim they can enroll you in a better program than what you currently have.

Medicare enrollment opened up on October 15 and continues through December 7. Unfortunately, scammers often see open enrollment as a chance to trick people out of money and personal information. Kathy Ecklund called WATE 6 On Your Side saying they were after her ID, and she wanted to warn others about the scam.

Someone called Ecklund claiming they were from Medicare, “he said that Medicare was issuing updated cards and they had a chip in them. A chip of all things. He needed to review all of my personal information so it could be accurate for this new card.”

She added that she was told the chip is much like we see on credit and debit cards, but she was skeptical. “I kind of played along because I was trying to gather more information and I said do you actually represent the actual Medicare or do you work through another company? No, I’m Medicare. So, I said, okay. I gave him the bogus information.”

After messing around with the scammer, Ecklund called the official Medicare number and reported the hoax.

“Well, Medicare said what they always tell everybody, they say, we do not call you. If we want to contact you it is by mail. If we were to issue a new card, we could send you a letter telling you about it and send you the card,” she said.

“I’m afraid, that’s why I called the television station and to let people know that they have to be very careful. Well, they could steal banking information, credit card information everything about you.”

In another common Medicare scam, callers will try to frighten you. They’ll claim that your Medicare will be discontinued if you did not reenroll, but they’ll also say, “Fortunately, as your Medicare Advisor” they can fix the situation if you share your personal information with them.

As part of the open enrollment period, seniors have been receiving written information recently about various Medicare advantage programs. They’re legitimate. Medicare says to be on the lookout for these common red flags.

  • Be wary of unsolicited phone calls, someone claiming they represent Medicare
  • Decline personal gifts in exchange for personal information
  • Guard your government-issued ID numbers.

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With approximately 18% of the U.S. population covered by Medicare, that’s about 63 million people, these scammers are going to find thousands of people who believe their speel. Don’t be one of their victims.