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Don't be fooled, no matter what caller ID says. These offers — usually by unsolicited phone call but sometimes via email or letter — are attempts to extract personal information from Medicare-age folks, whose names and numbers are gleaned from purchased lists.

It's illegal for a medical supplier to make unsolicited telephone calls to people who use Medicare unless you have given written consent to have that supplier call you, the call is about an item the supplier already provided to you, or you received delivered equipment in the previous 15 months. The same applies to telemarketers calling on behalf of suppliers.

To be sure, legitimate businesses such as pharmacies or booths operated by a charity, health agency or association offer flu shots and other free services. But they will not ask you for revealing personal information.

AUTUMN

Medicare Open Enrollment Cons

Medicare scams occur year round, but they dramatically spike starting in mid-October, when open enrollment begins. During this period, identity thieves ramp up various ruses to get you to reveal your Medicare number — which is your Social Security number.

The most common ploys: cold-calling those who are retirement age. Scammers collect their names, ages and phone numbers from public telephone directories or purchased lists. The fraudsters then claim that Medicare is issuing new cards, entitlements or refunds that can be redeemed only if you provide or "verify" your Medicare eligibility. Some crooks also ask for credit card or bank account numbers.

Don't believe it. Medicare will never phone or email you to ask for such information. The only time Medicare will request verification is if you initiate contact. Don't trust caller ID, which can be manipulated with "spoofing" products or Internet-based phone lines to display whatever phone number or organization they choose. And if you're wondering about 2013 changes in Medicare, learn about them at medicare.gov.

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AARP Wyoming senior state director, Tim Summers discusses a Bulletin article on older people targeted by scam artists and provides tips on how to avoid being scammed.

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