Beneficiaries Avoid Growing Medical Alert System Scam

Beneficiaries Avoid Growing Medical Alert System Scam

“Hi! I saw your notice on the Medical Alert System fraud scam in my assisted living facility,” said Mr. N of San Mateo County. “I’ve been receiving a lot of these types of calls and thanks to your flyer, I did not give them any information. Thanks so much. Now I’m calling to report it.”

Our California Senior Medicare Patrol has received a dozen such calls in just 1 week. The outreach done around this scam has been particularly successful and is a good example of teamwork and the importance of public education in stopping fraud.

In this particular scam, a caller claims to represent a company called Medical Alert and offers to give free equipment. The caller then asks for the person’s checking account information to pay for shipping fees.

Other SMP programs around the country notified us of this scam, as did our Bilingual Case and Outreach Specialist, Sandy Diaz who had been hearing reports from beneficiaries out in the field. After creating a fraud alert and having it translated into Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Russian and Korean, we sent it out to a statewide network of senior service coordinators. The response has been fantastic. This education process really takes a collaborative effort. Service Coordinators at each housing facility have been taking the alerts and posting them in elevators, dining halls, activity centers, where the information is very visible. The residents then see these alerts and call us with fraud reports and success stories of avoiding being scammed.

At the same time, one of our SMP volunteers, Paula Holden of Tehama County got word of this scam and sent out a press release through her local Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program’s media contacts. She then forwarded our alerts to their press contacts as well. This teamwork generated more media coverage, more phone calls into local SMP offices throughout the state, at least one citizen to write a letter to the editor and TV coverage on Channel 12 KHSL. Through teamwork we quickly and effectively spread the word on this scam, and have prevented numerous beneficiaries from giving out their personal information over the phone.

Let’s keep this victory going! Please spread the word by using and forwarding these Medical Alert System fraud notices and their translated versions. Report any suspected fraud to our SMP team at 1-855-613-7080. See Medicare Fraud for more info on fraud, and how to detect it.

See Medicare Fraud for more information.
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Our blogger Karen J. Fletcher is CHA's publications consultant. She provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare, health disparities and other health care issues. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she serves in health advocacy as a trainer and consultant. See her current articles.