Arkansas Insurance Commissioner Allen Kerr is warning Arkansans to be wary of Medicare phone scams with the start of 2017.


“The new year brings new opportunities for scammers to go after Arkansas seniors,” Kerr said in a news release. “With the ending of Medicare Open Enrollment last month, the start of the year is a common time for scammers to start calling seniors with demands for bank account or Social Security information. Medicare will never make this type of call. If you receive one, it is a scam, and your best defense is to hang up the phone.”


The most common scams involve callers claiming to work with Medicare, asking to verify a victim’s bank account number under the pretense that the government “lost your information,” that additional information is needed to “complete your application, of they need the account information to make deposits or send a new Medicare or prescription card. These demands are made by scammers while they threaten potential victims with a cutoff of benefits if the information isn’t provided.


Kerr offers the following tips should a Medicare scammer call:


• Don’t ever give out your bank account number — or any part of your Social Security number. Simply hang up the phone.


• Report your experience at 1-877-FTC-HELP or ftc.gov/complaint.


If you have questions, call the Arkansas Insurance Department’s Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) at 1-800-224-6330.


“Our SHIIP program is available everyday for Arkansans who have questions about Medicare, including information on signing up, finding a doctor, and programs to assist seniors to pay for coverage,” Kerr said.


Details: http://insurance.arkansas.gov, on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ARInsuranceDept and Facebook at http://facebook.com/ArkansasInsuranceDepartment.