Crime Prevention Corner Medicare open enrollment calls may lead to costly scams

Ron Craig, Crime Prevention/Community Policing Officer

        It is once again time for Medicare open enrollment, the time each Medicare recipient has the opportunity to review and make changes to their health care coverage. It is also time for scammers to get your personal information and drain your bank accounts.
        In the past month, I have probably received an average of one phone call every other day from someone trying to interest me in a Medicare health insurance policy. In every single case, there have been two constants with these calls – they all have a caller ID starting with the 419 area code and all have been from callers with a foreign accent.
        Each time, I have asked what city they are calling from. Their responses have varied, but all have claimed to be calling from somewhere in the United States. I then ask them why their caller ID says they are calling from Northwest Ohio, but none have been able to give me a good reason why they are using a fake caller ID.
        Of course, as we have discussed in past articles, they use a fake caller ID using the local area code to get people to answer the phone.
        Just like the callers who are trying to sell you used vehicle warranties, some are outright scams and others are what I consider “semi-legitimate” offers. The scam calls are efforts to get your personal information to take your money, and the semi-legitimate callers are trying to sell you an overpriced product or service.
        My own research has shown that some of the Medicare health insurance telemarketing callers are from third-party brokers who get a commission if they get you to sign up for a policy they are promoting or selling. The problem is that it is nearly impossible to distinguish these callers from the scammers.
        Even with these semi-legitimate callers, I don’t think people should trust anyone who has to use a fake phone number to get you to answer the phone.
        Medicare recipients who may want to check and compare their current coverages with other insurance carriers have an easy way to accomplish this by getting online at and studying various policies.
        You will need to determine what factors are most important to you, such as drug co-pays, premium amounts and coverage for things like dental and hearing aids if these are important to you. If you like your current doctor, you will want to check if that doctor is in network with any other policy you are considering.
        In this area, another important factor involves which hospitals are in network with policies you are contemplating.
        Another safe way to shop health insurance policies is to contact a reputable local insurance broker who represents several insurance companies. The more insurance companies brokers represent, the wider the variety you will have from which to choose.
        One question you should ask any broker up front is about their commission. Ask if he or she gets a commission from the insurance company or from your monthly premium. A commission paid to the broker from the insurance company will not usually cost you more for the policy.
        As with all scammers, if you are not sure if the caller is from a legitimate company, just hang up.
        This article is a public service from the Community Policing/Crime Prevention Division of the Lake Township Police Department. Township residents may obtain further information on crime prevention and public safety topics by contacting Ron Craig, crime prevention specialist/community policing officer, at 419-481-6354.


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