Telemarketers Love Me In The Fall

| October 20, 2019 | 0 Comments | Email This Post Email This Post

By Andy Asher

Everyone has a different tolerance level for telemarketing calls. I’m at zero. 

The daily calls started about a month ago before I realized health insurance companies are contacting me to sign-up for Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans. I figured if it’s driving me crazy millions of others are too so I found my new mission of getting to the bottom of it.

 

The Source For Answers

I found a couple of good resources and discovered an expert on Medicare marketing scams at Eligibility.com. They just published Medicare Scam Report: Open Enrollment 2019 and I talked Alex Enabnit who specializes in Medicare and the complicated prescription drug program that is offered as Part D.

He says”this is the time when typically beneficiaries get hit very hard with marketing calls because just everybody is trying to get business. So this is the time you are being solicited and it’s not always ethical.” 

Tool of Least Resistance

The telephone is always the easiest way for a salesperson to gain our attention and he warns, “you really cannot trust your caller I.D. anymore. And it’s unfortunate. But what a lot of scammers are doing is they’re able to spoof numbers and pretend like they’re coming from Medicare or from the Social Security Administration, where they could be calling from anywhere in the world.” 

There are a few things you can do but whenever in doubt just say to be put on the do-not-call list. If you still get calls from that same person, from that same company, report them to 1 800-Medicare or the FTC. They handle a lot of those complaints.

Good vs Bad Companies

From his experience, good companies follow the rules. They won’t use pushy tactics. ” think the best company is the one that tells you what’s best for you, regardless of how that affects their bottom line. If you end up finding the right plan, he says, “I’m happy and I just want whoever uses elibibility.com to get the right service for their needs.” 

When Scams Are Most Prevalent

This time of year during the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) the scams are most prevalent. Enabnit, explains, “most of the scams today are imposter scams.” Imposter scams sound official and seem to be legitimate and sometimes carry a warning like I’m from Medicare and we’re suspending your benefits unless you wire us money. “That should be a huge red flag.” He says, “if you’re ever asked to pay by a wire transfer to a government agency or gift cards to a government agency, hang up immediately and report that to the FTC because that is fraud. Today’s impostor scams are people pretending to be from Medicare or maybe the sheriff’s department claiming they have a warrant for your arrest or the Social Security Administration is suspending your benefits. And it’s always kind of  a threat. Or it could be a promise of free benefits. 

Another big scam is this free genetic testing. “Right now, a lot of scammers are calling people saying, hey, Medicare has approved, this DNA test for you, and it’s free of charge. So just give us your Medicare number or your Social Security number and we’ll perform this test for you. Most of the time, that’s a total scam. And people don’t even get the results back.” 

Eligibility.com publishes a scam report and the FTC also has a scam report which is updated regularly because scammers are clever and they’re always going to be thinking of something new. Once the government cracks down on the scam, they’ll try to think of some other ways to get you away from your money. So it’s really important to stay up to date on what’s out there. 

Simple Rule of Thumb

So as a rule of thumb Enabnit says, “if someone calls you out of the blue and they say they’re from the government, they’re probably not. Typically, the government always gives you first notice or some sort of first notification and communication through the mail. They’re big fans of snail mail, so they won’t try to call you and just shake it down for gifts, gift cards or money. If you’re getting a call like that, it’s probably fake.” As general advice, “I would say lead with your gut. If you’re getting some sort of feeling like, oh, man, this doesn’t feel right. Like I don’t feel like a Social Security Administration should be calling me and shaking me down for money. It’s probably a scam. Be skeptical. Have a healthy skepticism but also verify and stay ahead of the curve on what scams people are doing, because as people get scammed, they’ll report it to the FTC. And then you can see just the list of current tactics that scammers are using to try to trick you. I would just say stay informed, be a little skeptical of phone calls especially.” 

The best advice when in doubt, just hang up the phone and if they say they’re from Medicare, you can hang up the phone, call 1 800-Medicare and say, hey, I got a call about this. Is this real? Can you direct me to this person? And typically, the first person on the line will tell you, hey, that’s a scam. I will help you report that. Let’s get this taken care of. And don’t worry about that charge.” 

Tools to Block Robo Calls

Finally, I checked with my phone carrier AT&T about my home phone but they have virtually nothing to block robo calls and unwanted marketing calls. For my cell phone there are a few apps, Hiya, Nomorobo, and TrueCaller, which I tried and it blocked a lot of calls. But I still need to conduct further testing, and I will let you know when the work is done. 

Unsolicited marketing calls have been around since the advent of the phone, but now they are more sophisticated.  I think the best advice I learned, lead with your gut.  That’s simple and keeps you out of trouble.

Andy Asher

Andy Asher is editor of Bloomer Boomer.

 

 

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