Risks and Tips for Medicare Supplement Plans
By Guest Blogger Mia Murdock, Founder and Principal Planning Advisor of Mosaic Planning Group
As the population ages, the demand for Medicare supplement plans, also known as Medigap plans, has increased significantly. Unfortunately, this surge in demand has also attracted scammers and fraudsters who prey on vulnerable elderly clients. This article aims to shed light on the risks associated with Medicare supplement plans, particularly through email and phone calls, and provide valuable tips to help identify fraudulent websites.
Email scams targeting elderly clients seeking Medicare supplement plans have become increasingly prevalent. These scams often involve phishing attempts, where scammers impersonate legitimate insurance providers or government agencies to obtain personal information or financial details. Here are some red flags to watch out for:
- Unsolicited emails: Be cautious of unsolicited emails claiming to offer Medicare supplement plans. Legitimate insurance providers typically do not send unsolicited emails to potential clients.
- Poor grammar and spelling: Emails with numerous grammatical errors or misspellings can indicate fraudulent activity.
- Urgency and pressure tactics: Scammers often create a sense of urgency, pressuring recipients to act quickly without thoroughly considering their options.
- Requests for personal information: Legitimate insurance providers will never ask for personal information, such as Social Security numbers or bank account details, via email.
Phone Call Risks
Fraudulent phone calls targeting seniors are another common tactic used by scammers. These calls often involve impersonating insurance agents or Medicare representatives. Here’s how to identify potential phone call scams:
- Unsolicited calls: Be wary of unsolicited calls offering Medicare supplement plans. Legitimate insurance providers typically do not make unsolicited calls to potential clients.
- High-pressure tactics: Scammers may use aggressive sales tactics, insisting on immediate decisions or requesting payment over the phone.
- Requests for personal information: Legitimate insurance providers will not ask for personal information, such as Social Security numbers or bank account details, over the phone.
- Caller ID spoofing: Scammers can manipulate caller ID to make it appear as if the call is coming from a trusted source. Always verify the caller’s identity independently before sharing any personal information.
Identifying Fraudulent Websites
Fraudulent websites are a significant risk when searching for Medicare supplement plans online. These websites often mimic legitimate insurance providers, making it challenging to distinguish between the two. Here are some tips to help identify fraudulent websites:
- Verify the website’s legitimacy: Check if the website belongs to a reputable insurance provider by conducting thorough research. Look for contact information, customer reviews, and professional affiliations.
- Secure website connection: Ensure the website has a secure connection by looking for “https://” at the beginning of the URL and a padlock icon in the browser’s address bar.
- Trustworthy domain name: Be cautious of websites with domain names that closely resemble well-known insurance providers but contain slight variations or misspellings.
Note: CyberWyoming ran an Immuniweb Darkweb scan (https://www.immuniweb.com/darkweb/) on medicare.gov and it is being impersonated by names of websites that look really real. Some of the ones that came up were wwwmedicaregov.com, medicare-gov.com, medicaregov.com and medicaregov.co. The REAL Medicare website is medicare.gov.
- Professional design and content: Legitimate insurance providers invest in professional website design and provide comprehensive and accurate information about their services.
Elderly clients seeking Medicare supplement plans must remain vigilant against the risks associated with email and phone call scams, as well as fraudulent websites. By being aware of the red flags and following the tips provided, they can protect themselves from falling victim to these scams. Remember, it is always advisable to consult with a trusted, local insurance agent or Medicare representative before making any decisions or sharing personal information.
Contact your local senior center for resources and recommendations of this kind and talk to your friends to see who they consult.