Don’t fall for these common health care scams - MultiCare Vitals (2024)

May 15, 2024 | By Meredith Bailey

Don’t fall for these common health care scams - MultiCare Vitals (1)

At a glance

  • Health care-related scams designed to steal your personal information are on the rise
  • Scam calls or messages may urge you to take immediate action to avoid negative consequences
  • If a message seems suspicious, trust your instincts and verify its legitimacy before responding

Is this email actually from my doctor’s office?

Is that really my insurance company calling?

Unfortunately, health care-related scams designed to steal your personal information are on the rise, and you may find yourself asking these questions.

While none of us wants to think that we could fall for a scam, the people committing these crimes are both sophisticated and creative — and their tactics are constantly changing.

Protect your privacy by learning how to spot the signs of a scam.

Common types of scams

Scams may come in the form of emails, phone calls or texts, and on the surface they may seem like they’re from a trusted source. Deceptive messages, no matter the type, may urge you to take some sort of immediate action to avoid negative consequences, like missing out on a special benefit or losing your health insurance coverage.

But it’s important to pause and consider whether the message is real. If in doubt, do not give your personal information or click any links in a message. Be on the lookout for the following types of scams.

Phone scams

If someone calls you claiming to be from an insurance company, Medicare or a government agency, you should be suspicious.

Impersonators may ask you to verify your personal information so they can issue you a new insurance card, help you find a cheaper insurance plan or process a claim for medical equipment. They may even ask for your bank account or credit card information so you can maintain your coverage.

Representatives from Medicare or any other government agency will never call, email, text or send a message through social media to ask for your personal information or request payment. Insurance agents should also not be calling you out of the blue to request these details.

What to do: Hang up. If the person claims to be from Medicare, call 800-633-4227 to report the call. If they claim to be from your insurance company, call the number listed on the back of your insurance card. If they say they are with a government agency, look up the agency’s number on their website to report the call.

Do not call the number that appears on your caller ID, as scammers can fake that identifying information.

Who is most at risk for medical identity theft?

Consumer Reports shares that the following groups are often targeted for medical identity theft:

  • Older adults
  • Children (fraud often isn’t detected until a child is old enough to apply for credit in their own name)
  • People who have recently given birth
  • People who have had surgery
  • People with chronic conditions or serious illnesses such as diabetes or cancer

Patient portal scams

MyChart is a secure, reliable tool for communicating with your health care team. Unfortunately, it has become more common for scammers to send phony messages that may seem like they are from MyChart or another patient portal. These emails may sometimes have imitation branding, logos or color schemes that make it appear they are from a trusted organization like MultiCare.

What to do: Read the communication carefully — don’t skim it. If it seems suspicious, trust your instincts. Look for misspellings, branding that seems familiar but slightly off in some way, or unfamiliar email addresses. All legitimate MyChart emails use the same email address: [emailprotected].

You can call MyChart customer support at 844-388-2356 to verify the legitimacy of a message. You can also log into MyChart via the MyChart app to access a message, pay a bill, view test results and more.

How MultiCare will communicate with you

MultiCare may use several methods to communicate with you, including sending MyChart messages, emails and texts (for those who have opted in).

Most MultiCare text messages now come from numbers known as short codes, abbreviated numbers used just for text messaging. Visit our text messaging FAQ on multicare.org to learn more or enroll. Short codes will launch for patients in the Yakima region June 1.

Here’s what to know about MultiCare communications:

  • MultiCare staff may ask you for personal information for billing or payment purposes, but we would not demand this information, and you have the right to decline.
  • We may contact you to confirm an appointment, complete registration tasks before an appointment or fill out a patient satisfaction survey following a visit.
  • We will contact you to offer payment resolution options or financial assistance, but we will not make demands or threats.
  • We may send overdue accounts to a collection agency that may contact you to obtain payment. Our collection agencies follow all regulatory requirements.

If you are suspicious about a call or a message, contact the facility directly where you have received care or will receive care to find out if they actually need the information that was requested. For questions about billing or collections, call 800-919-1936.

Tips for protecting yourself against scams and fraud

Review your explanation of benefits (EOBs). Your insurance company will send you an EOB every time you receive a health care service for which a claim was submitted. Review EOBs to ensure you recognize the name of the provider and that you did receive the service described. While errors are not always a scam or fraud, they do sometimes happen. If you notice something inaccurate, call your insurance company.

Beware of free or discounted health-care related services. If someone contacts you offering services, equipment or testing kits — such as genetic testing kits — that are free or discounted, do not accept them without checking with your provider first. Always confirm that your provider has ordered an item or service for you.

Beware of drugs or health care therapies found on the internet or social media. If you’re curious about a product you see advertised online, ask your provider before ordering it. Even if it’s not a scam designed to steal your personal information, some of these products may pose health risks or provide no benefit at all.

Check your medical records at least twice a year. If you notice an error, contact your doctor immediately. You can use MyChart to access your medical records or request copies.

Call your insurance company if you lose your insurance card. Ask for both a new ID number and a new card.

Be cautious about email links and attachments. Be wary of emails that invite you to click links or attachments, particularly if they’re from an unknown sender or if you’re not expecting the message. Visit Lifewire.com for tips about how to check a link’s credibility without actually clicking on it.

Take steps to protect your personal information. Shred unwanted documents or expired cards that contain banking, tax or medical information, or personal identifiers like Social Security numbers or old addresses. Also be mindful of discussing confidential information on the phone in public settings.

Editor’s note: This article includes highlights from NorthShore University Health System, United Health Care and Consumer Reports.

What's next

  • Learn how to tell the difference between health information and misinformation
  • Explore how to access your health information through MyChart
  • Find answers to your questions about billing and insurance

Healthy Living

About the Author

Meredith Bailey

Meredith Bailey is a staff writer at MultiCare Health System. She crafts stories about science, health and wellness, among other topics.

More Stories By This Author

Don’t fall for these common health care scams - MultiCare Vitals (2024)

FAQs

Don’t fall for these common health care scams - MultiCare Vitals? ›

Phone scams

How to spot health insurance scams? ›

Know the signs of a health care scam
  1. Red flag #1: The caller says they are from the government. ...
  2. Red flag #2: The caller asks that you pay to keep your coverage or get a new Medicare card. ...
  3. Red flag #3: An insurance agent calls you out of the blue. ...
  4. Red flag #4: A salesperson won't tell you specific details about a plan.

How to avoid health insurance scams? ›

If a salesperson calls to offer health insurance, use these tips to protect yourself:
  1. Research a phone number or company online (if possible) to check its history, including “complaint,” “scam” or “fraud” in your search.
  2. Never give your personal or financial information to someone you did not ask to call you.

Why am I getting so many calls about health insurance? ›

Fake Health Insurance Plans: Scammers call and try to sell you health insurance plans that aren't real. Sometimes all they really want is to get your personal information so they can use it for themselves.

Which insurance is against online scams? ›

Cyber insurance covers the liability actions that might be brought against you, arising out of a cyber event (third party loss), such as investigation and defence costs, civil damages, compensation payments to affected parties.

Am I covered if I get scammed? ›

If you've transferred money to someone because of a scam

Your bank or building society should reimburse you if it's registered with the Lending Standards Board under their Contingent Reimbursem*nt Model Code (CRM Code). You can check if your bank is registered under the CRM code on the Lending Standards Board website.

Can someone steal your identity with your health insurance card? ›

Criminals looking to steal your medical identity use many methods. They may obtain your personal information from old medical documents or your health insurance card. They might also employ phishing tactics — using calls, emails or other messages that appear legitimate — to trick you into giving up your information.

Can someone do something with your health insurance card? ›

Scammers can also steal your medical identity, which can put you in harm's way. Protect yourself by guarding your health insurance ID card, which you will receive in the mail upon selecting the health insurance plan of your choice. Treat this card as you would a credit card or your driver's license.

What can a scammer do with your medical information? ›

A thief that uses your personal information to see a doctor, get prescription drugs, buy medical devices, submit claims with your insurance provider, or get other medical care may also use it in other situations. Go to IdentityTheft.gov to create a personal recovery plan.

How to get $540 a month from the government? ›

Check if you qualify for the Golden State Stimulus II
  1. Filed your 2020 taxes by October 15, 2021.
  2. Had a California Adjusted Gross Income (CA AGI) of $1 to $75,000 for the 2020 tax year. ...
  3. Had wages of $0 to $75,000 for the 2020 tax year.
  4. Been a California resident for more than half of the 2020 tax year.

Does the government give out $9000 dollar grants? ›

The government does not offer free money or grants to people for personal needs.

What is the highest income to qualify for Obamacare? ›

The income range is $30,000 to $120,000 in 2024 for a family of four. (Income limits may be higher in Alaska and Hawaii because the federal poverty level is higher in those states.) The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 also extended subsidy eligibility to some people earning more than 400% of the federal poverty level.

How do you remove your number from health insurance calls? ›

To remove your number, call 1-888-382-1222 from the phone you want to remove. Your number will be off the Registry the next day. Businesses and organizations have to update their telemarketing lists within 31 days.

How to block spam calls? ›

Block individual numbers on Android

Open the Phone app, select Recents, and tap the avatar of the caller you want to block. Tap the three-dot icon in the top right and select Block numbers.

How can I get spam calls to stop? ›

You can register your numbers on the national Do Not Call list at no cost by calling 1-888-382-1222 (voice) or 1-866-290-4236 (TTY). You must call from the phone number you wish to register. You can also register at add your personal wireless phone number to the national Do-Not-Call list donotcall.gov.

Can someone steal your health insurance? ›

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), medical identity theft occurs when someone uses another person's name or insurance information to get medical treatment, prescription drugs or surgery.

What are the random calls from HealthCare? ›

Scammers will call looking to sell medical discount plans or “club” memberships that reduce prices from certain doctors. If you're being told about one of these “clubs,” that's your cue to hang up.

Why am I getting so many phone calls about Medicare? ›

If you receive an unexpected phone call or text message that claims to be from Medicare and asks for personal information, it's a scam. Medicare does not engage in telemarketing, and they won't call you unless you've called them first.

Is UnitedHealthcare legit? ›

UnitedHealthcare has 4.6 out of five stars for member experience, according to a HealthCare.gov survey that asked people to rank their medical care, doctors and ability to get appointments. UnitedHealthcare gets 19% fewer complaints than average, for a company of its size.

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