Consumer Protection Division
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Media Contact: Bob Cooper
(208) 334-4112

Date: April 1, 2004

Fraudulent Medicare Drug Card Solicitations Reported

(Boise) - Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and the Idaho Commission on Aging today warned senior citizens about fraud related to the new Medicare discount drug cards.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Trade Commission have notified the state that seniors in Idaho and ten other states have been contacted about the drug discount cards by persons claiming to represent the Medicare program. Some contacts have been by telephone; others have been by persons going door-to-door.

The solicitors offer to enroll beneficiaries in the drug discount card program in exchange for their bank information, social security number or credit card number. However, the federal government has not yet authorized anyone to sell Medicare discount drug cards.

"These solicitations and offers are clearly fraudulent and are likely attempts to commit identity theft," Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said. "Seniors approached by these solicitors should not give out any personal information. Instead, seniors should get as much information about the solicitor as possible, including an address and telephone number, and report the solicitation to my Consumer Protection Unit."

Lois Bauer, Administrator of the Idaho Commission on Aging, joined Wasden in warning consumers. "Do not give out your Medicare number to anyone who calls you," Bauer said. "As seniors, we must remember that no one from Medicare will ever telephone, call at our door, use email or mail a request for our Medicare number or social security number. Medicare has your number; they don't need to get it from you. Medicare will send you the information and material you need as the startup date gets closer. When in doubt, call 1-800-Medicare (1-800-633-4227)."

Card sponsors are allowed to start enrolling people with Medicare as early as May 2004.The discount card program will begin in June. It was created as part of the new Medicare law to help beneficiaries save about 10% to 25% on their prescription drug costs until the program's prescription drug benefit takes effect in 2006. Medicare has said it will send official marketing materials to beneficiaries this spring.

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