Seniors: Beware of scam

Fri, 01/12/2018 - 9:45am
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Whether it’s a new scam, or an old one, seniors with Medicare should be aware that they may be targeted by a caller claiming to work for Healthsource RI.

It all starts innocently enough. The caller asks for someone by name and then proceeds to tell them they are calling from Healthsource RI and are enquiring about the need for supplemental Medicare insurance. Why are they calling, and on a Saturday — well, they are reaching out to seniors all across the state, says the caller.

What? You don’t have supplemental Medicare insurance? The pleasant, slightly elderly female voice sounds dismayed and concerned about the presumed hole in insurance coverage, and the push is on. A simple “we don’t need that” does not suffice. “Someone will come to your home,” says the caller.

“Do you realize you’re calling Block Island? (This works when the offer is for home delivery of The Providence Journal.)

“Someone will come to your home,” says the voice on the other end of the line. Her tone is getting a bit annoyed by this time.

“You’d better not come to my home,” I say, and realizing this is most likely a scam, down goes the phone on the receiver.

The problem with this scam is that it doesn’t seem like a scam so much as simply an annoying sales call. 

The Block Island Times reached out to Kyrie Perry, director of communications for Healthsource RI to see if this was indeed a scam, and was told it was. Perry said that Healthsource RI does not participate in the Medicare supplemental insurance market, and does not cold call residents to get them to sign up for insurance. She said there may be cases when they do call, but it is only if there is already an established relationship with the person. 

Perry also told The Times that she had not yet heard of this particular scam. Last April, there was a warning from Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin regarding another Medicare fraud scam. That scam also involved callers posing as Healthsource RI employees who were trying to obtain Medicare numbers from unsuspecting people. With that information, they could, under a phony business, proceed to bill Medicare for services that never occurred. 

If you receive such a call, try to catch the phone number of the caller, and reach out to Perry, as HealthSource RI would like to further investigate the scam. She can be reached via e-mail at: Kyrie.perry@exchange.ri.gov or at (401) 462-3591.