Kelly here with AllClear ID. Handling diabetes can be extremely resource intensive – both on your time and your wallet. So when some diabetics received a call from someone offering free glucose meters, diabetic test strips, lancets and other supplies, it seemed like a blessing. However, they are likely unknowingly talking to a scammer attempting to steal their personal information.

The Department of Health and Human Services recently put out a fraud alert warning diabetics about this scam, which has been reported all over the country. In this scam, the thieves will call victims claiming to be a Medicare employee or a member of a legitimate diabetes group. They will offer perks such as free drugs or supplies in exchange for Medicare, financial, or other personal information.

After obtaining the information, the opportunities for the thieves are endless. Some have used Medicare numbers for medical identity theft: obtaining benefits under the victims name, defrauding the government and the victim. Others have used the Social Security numbers and other information to open credit.

If you receive a call from the government or a health organization asking for your personal information, hang up! Both the government and organizations such as The American Diabetes Association claim they never ask for personal information over the phone.  If you have reason to believe the call is legitimate, obtain the callers information, then look up the organizations listed contact information and call them to handle matters.

The Department of Health and Human Services also offers this advice:

  1. Protect Your Medicare and Other Personal Information: Do not provide your Medicare number or other personal information. Be suspicious of anyone who offers free items or services and then asks for your Medicare or financial information. These calls are not coming from Medicare, diabetes associations, or other similar organizations. While the caller says the items are “free,” the items are still billed to Medicare. Once your Medicare information is in the hands of a dishonest person or supplier, you are susceptible to further scams. Alert others about this scheme, and remind them not to provide strangers Medicare numbers or other personal information.
  2. Report the Call to Law Enforcement: Report the call to the OIG Hotline at 1-800-HHS-TIPS or online at www.OIG.HHS.gov/fraud/hotline. As part of your report, provide the name of the company that called you, the company’s telephone number and address, and a summary of your conversation with the caller.
  3. Check Your Medicare Summary Notice and Medicare Bills: Check your Medicare Summary Notice and other medical information to see if you were charged for items you did not order or did not receive. Also, check for items that were billed multiple times, such as glucose meters, diabetes test strips and lancets, and other supplies. Report any irregular activity to your health care provider and the OIG Hotline at 1-800-HHS-TIPS or online at www.OIG.HHS.gov/fraud/hotline.
  4. Do Not Accept Items That You Did Not Order: Youu are under no obligation to accept items that you did not order. Instead, you should refuse the delivery and/or return to the sender. Keep a record of the sender’s name and the date you returned the item(s) to help OIG catch any future illegal billing.