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Free COVID test scam targeting Medicare beneficiaries

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.
  • 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).

Updated September 2, 2022 to remove references to the federal government’s free COVID-19 test kit program, which was suspended on September 2, 2022.

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3 Comments


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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

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Gwen M Beck
August 23, 2022

A friend told me Medicare would provide someone to trim my toe nails. I can't afford a pedicure and have a very difficult time trying to trim the nails by myself.

Anne
August 24, 2022

Perfect timing. Was having difficulty setting up appt. for testing. Seemed too much info being asked so worked with a real person to get test
Also, today received 2 emails, one directed to Sofii and another in a foreign language. Deleted both without opening.
Thank you for watching out for my generation and generations coming behind we older ones.

Darlene Schafer
September 02, 2022

Thank you for this timely info to help protect older people from scams. I saw some TV commercials for tests and was questioning them as they were not government sponsored ones.