Free COVID test scam targets people on Medicare
By Gema de las Heras
Scammers have been targeting Medicare recipients with a fake offer to get “free COVID tests.” They’re calling and running websites, online and television ads to try to convince people to give their Medicare information. But if you give them your information, they’ll bill fraudulent charges to Medicare.
We’re hearing about many Medicare recipients who signed up for these free COVID tests and never got them. And what makes matters worse is that scammers could also bill for other products and services people didn’t need — and didn’t get.
If you or someone you know is covered by Medicare, here’s how to avoid these scams:
- During the COVID-19 public health emergency Medicare does in fact cover 8 free COVID-19 tests a month, but no one from Medicare will call you with an offer. If someone calls and says they’re from Medicare and offers you a “free COVID test,” hang up right away.
- The federal government is also offering free COVID-19 tests to every residential household. No insurance information or even your name is required. To order free test kits from the government, go to special.usps.com/testkits or call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489). They’ll be delivered to your home for free. Each order includes 8 tests. Every U.S. household is entitled to place two orders for a total of 16 tests.
- Medicare beneficiaries can get their free tests at participating pharmacies. Find a partial list here.
- Never give your Medicare or other personal information over the phone to anyone who calls out of the blue, asking for it.
- Fraudulent charges may affect your Medicare coverage. Although the money doesn’t come directly out of your pocket, you may not be able to get medical equipment you need. Check your Medicare Summary Notice to be sure you (and Medicare) are only being charged for services you really got.
- Find out more about Medicare fraud by visiting CMS.gov or calling 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227). Also, read the FTC’s article on medical identity theft.
Spot this or a similar Medicare scam? Report at ReportFraud.ftc.gov or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).