Kilmartin: Never give out your Medicare number over the phone

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Attorney General Peter Kilmartin is warning Rhode Islanders of a scheme targeting Medicare patients.

According to Kilmartin’s office, patients have reported receiving calls from someone claiming to be a representative of HealthSource RI, the state’s health insurance marketplace. The male caller then asks for personal information, including patients’ Medicare numbers.

The phone calls will show a 401 area code, but Kilmartin said it’s likely the scammers are spoofing the area code to make it seem more credible.

The AG’s office said HealthSource RI never contacts customers by telephone with that type of request. In a statement Thursday, Kilmartin warned patients to never provide Medicare information to someone over the phone, no matter what they tell you.

“Medicare scams and fraud cost billions every year. Access to a person’s Medicare ID number is akin to printing money,” he said. “With that number, individuals can set up fake businesses to bill Medicare for health-related items that are never provided to the Medicare subscriber. Keeping your Medicare number safe and secure is as critically important as it is to keep your social security number and financial information safe and secure.”

If you receive one of these phone calls, Kilmartin said the best thing to do is simply hang up. If you receive a voicemail from someone claiming to be from HealthSource RI, don’t call the number that’s provided.

Kilmartin also urged residents to check Medicare statements regularly and report any suspicious activity to the Medicare Office of the Inspector General by calling 800-447-8477. Then, alert Kilmartin’s Consumer Protection Unit so it can warn others of the possible scheme by calling (401) 274-4400.