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Open Enrollment: Prime Time for Confusion, NH Scammers

PHOTO: Granite Staters are advised to sit tight on their wallets this week, as Open Enrollment begins for Medicare recipients. While there are plenty of health care choices, consumer advocates warn scam artists will use this time period to fish for personal information. Photo courtesy of AARP New Hampshire.
PHOTO: Granite Staters are advised to sit tight on their wallets this week, as Open Enrollment begins for Medicare recipients. While there are plenty of health care choices, consumer advocates warn scam artists will use this time period to fish for personal information. Photo courtesy of AARP New Hampshire.
October 13, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. - It's called Open Enrollment and it starts Wednesday; it's an opportunity for hundreds of thousands of local Medicare recipients to switch their health plan options but it is also a prime time for scam artists.

Bob Denz is a retired FBI agent and volunteer "fraud-fighter" for AARP New Hampshire. He says folks on Medicare have a wide variety of changes they can make, both to their prescription drug plans and health care programs. And scammers are hoping all those options will produce easy targets to take advantage of.

"Scam artists try to scam Medicare all through the year," Denz says. "They especially want to do it during this open season, when there is information out there, a lot of information that people get confused."

Open Enrollment starts Oct. 15 and runs through December 7. Denz says New Hampshire residents should look into their options but also, sit tight on their wallets and not disclose sensitive information via email or over the phone.

Denz says a telephone scam making the rounds in the Granite State tries to get people to reveal their Medicare or Social Security numbers, under the false claim that the person on the phone will get them a new identification card.

"'Do you know things are changing? You need to get a new Medicare card. We can do it, we can cut some corners for you, we can get it right away.' And that's what they want, is your Social Security number," says Denz.

One thing Medicare enrollees can count on, says Denz, is the only way folks from Medicare will reach out to them is through the U.S. postal system.

"They're not going to give you an email and so forth; they will write you a letter," says Denz. "They don't call up telling you to change, or ask you for your Social Security number. If that is the case and you get a call, hang up."

Denz warns to also be wary of callers who claim they can offer a great deal with supplemental insurance. Instead, he says, you can compare policies at the official Medicare website.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH