Beware of Medicare open enrollment scams

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Open enrollment in Medicare is happening right now. For seniors, it's time to pick their health care plans for 2021 and right on cue, scammers are on the prowl.

You probably know the damage a scammer can do with your social security number. It turns out a valid Medicare account number is also worth big money to criminals.

Last year, $60 billion was lost to Medicare fraud. They do it by getting legitimate accounts and setting up fake claims.

It is estimated a single Medicare account can be worth up to $30,000 for crooks.

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That is why scammers are calling seniors and are offering to sign them up for plans during the open enrollment period.

Remember, Medicare is not going to call you and information is only sent through the mail.

Never give the Medicare number to anyone over the phone you do not know.

"Open enrollment is prime time for Medicare fraud because you might get a call out of the blue saying, 'we have a wonderful Medicare plan for you to pay for all your prescriptions. We just need your Medicare number', but you will end up in the wrong plan or a plan that is not right for you," Texas Senior Medicare Patrol director Jennifer Salazar said. "That is a very scary thing right now."

Seniors can get free help from approved places like your local area agency on aging. In Houston, you can find them here.

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