BATON ROUGE, La. – This year is the first observance of Medicare Fraud Prevention Week, June 5-11. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana reminds everyone that the most effective way to avoid fraud is to always be on the lookout for it.
The FBI received nearly 800,000 fraud and scam complaints in 2020, adding up to more than $4 billion in losses. More than a quarter of those who reported financial losses because of fraud were 60 or older. And, federal officials estimate that the Medicare program loses $60 billion each year because of fraud, errors and abuse.
“Anyone can be a victim of fraud, but scammers often target older adults because they tend to own homes and have savings they built up during their working years. And, they are often less skeptical than younger adults,” said Kandyce Cowart, Blue Cross Special Investigations manager. “The good news is that everyone can help fight fraud by being aware and being very selective about when, where and with whom you share financial, health or personal information.”
Blue Cross and the New Orleans FBI Field Office produced a short video on “Avoiding Fraud” to share tips (1:55). Visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana YouTube channel to see the Fraud Prevention Tips playlist of other short videos. Subscribe to know when new videos are added.
Here are some tips to avoid fraud and common scams:
• Be suspicious whenever ANYONE asks you for money or for your personal, financial or health information, especially if it’s unexpected or coming from a stranger. It’s ok to ignore calls, emails, text messages, visits or other unwanted outreach– particularly if someone is making you uncomfortable or pressuring you to act quickly without having time to think about it or talk to others.
• Scammers will claim to be calling from the Medicare program or your health plan and tell you there is a problem with your coverage and they need to confirm your information. If you get a cold call like this, do not respond. Contact your health plan directly using the Customer Service number on your member ID card to ask if you need to do anything.
• Scammers may also claim to be reaching out on behalf of your health care provider’s office or pharmacy to ask you for health information. Verify any outreach before giving your insurance coverage, payment information or other details, especially if the person is asking about something you’ve never discussed with your provider or pharmacist.
• Do not accept offers to have pills, creams, foot baths, braces or other medical supplies sent to you without talking to your health care provider. If these items show up at your home and you didn’t order them, don’t use them.
• If someone you’ve only met online through social media or dating sites asks you for money or personal information, it’s a red flag.
• Scammers often try pretending to be someone you know, like a grandchild or other relative. They’ll use tactics such as claiming to be stranded in another country or under arrest and will ask you to help them right away. If you get an out-of-the-blue request for money or your financial information, ask questions only the real person could answer to make sure it’s really them before you respond.
“The best rule to follow is that if something sounds odd, trust your gut,” Cowart said. “If it’s a legitimate outreach, they will not mind if you take the time to verify that you need to share your information and will understand your concerns. And don’t worry about seeming rude – if it doesn’t feel right to you, hang up, walk away and don’t engage.”
If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud or were approached by a scammer, you can report it online at Tips.FBI.Gov or IC3.Gov or by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324). Blue Cross members can also make reports to the insurer’s Fraud Hotline at 1-800-392-9249.
Follow Blue Cross on social media @BCBSLA during Medicare Fraud Prevention Week to see more information about how to be aware of and avoid scams. Blue Cross posts regularly on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. Founded in New Orleans in 1934, we are a tax-paying nonprofit health insurer with offices in every major region to serve our customers. We have been recognized for the past three years as an honoree of The Civic 50, named by Points of Light as one of the 50 most community-minded companies in the United States.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. We are a private mutual company, owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. We invite all Louisianians to visit our website at www.bcbsla.com or talk to us on social media.