Recent Press Releases

Thune Warns Seniors Against Phony Medicare Calls

Scam Swindles Seniors, Promising Fake Benefits, Cards

June 19, 2006

Washington, DC —  Senator John Thune today issued the following statement warning South Dakota Medicare beneficiaries to be on the lookout for fraudulent phone calls associated with the "$299 Ring" scheme, in which callers contact Medicare beneficiaries promising a new prescription drug card for a flat fee of $299, and request bank account numbers that are then used to electronically withdraw the money. A new variation on the scheme requests higher amounts of money in exchange for a new Medicare card, instead of a prescription drug plan.

"South Dakota seniors with Medicare should be extremely wary of suspicious calls regarding the Medicare prescription drug benefit. Any calls requesting personal banking information should be terminated and reported immediately," Thune said. "Medicare rules prohibit anyone representing the agency from calling a beneficiary and asking for bank account or other personal information, or cash payment, over the telephone. Any beneficiaries who have received questionable calls or have concerns regarding the scam should call 1-877-7SAFERX, a hotline set up by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services."

Tips for People with Medicare to Protect Against Scams

  • No one can come into your house uninvited.

  • No one can ask you for personal information during their marketing activities.

  • Always keep all personal information, such as your Medicare number, safe, just as you would a credit card or a bank account number.
  • Whenever you have a question or concern about any activity regarding Medicare, call 1-877-7SAFERX (1-877-772-3379).

  • Legitimate Medicare drug plans will not ask for payment over the telephone or the Internet. They must send a bill to the beneficiary for the monthly premium.

  • Beneficiaries can pay automatically by setting up a monthly withdrawal from their Social Security check. Beneficiaries may also pay by monthly check or set up an automatic withdrawal from a bank account, but beneficiaries must call their plan or respond to a mailed payment request from the plan to do this.