WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 23, 2020)— The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) is alerting the public about fraud schemes related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Scammers are offering COVID-19 tests to Medicare beneficiaries in exchange for personal details, including Medicare information. However, the services are unapproved and illegitimate.
Fraudsters are targeting beneficiaries in a number of ways, including telemarketing calls, social media platforms and door-to-door visits.
These scammers use the coronavirus pandemic to benefit themselves, and beneficiaries face potential harm. The personal information collected can be used to fraudulently bill federal health care programs and commit medical identity theft. If Medicare or Medicaid denies the claim for an unapproved test, the beneficiary could be responsible for the cost.
“OIG is alerting the public to these fraud schemes so that patients and families—from their own homes—can take steps to ensure they are receiving legitimate medical care and protect themselves,” said Christi A. Grimm Principal Deputy Inspector General of OIG in a statement. “We will not tolerate these scams in which fraudsters try to enrich themselves by preying on unsuspecting patients to steal personal and medical identity information. With our law enforcement partners, we will be vigilant in our investigation and enforcement against those who exploit this emergency.”
Home health and home medical equipment providers can advise customers to:
- Be cautious of unsolicited requests for their Medicare or Medicaid numbers.
- Be suspicious of any unexpected calls or visitors offering COVID-19 tests or supplies.
- Ignore offers or advertisements for COVID-19 testing or treatments on social media sites.
- A physician or other trusted health care provider should assess your condition and approve any requests for COVID-19 testing.
If you suspect COVID-19 fraud, contact National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline (866) 720-5721 or email@example.com