Feds warn of evolving scam targeting Medicare users by sending unwanted COVID test kits
Sep 18, 2023, 10:08 PM | Updated: 10:24 pm
MIDVALE, Utah — KSL Investigators have been hearing from Utahns that COVID-19 test kits are showing up in their mailboxes, out-of-the-blue.
They didn’t want them. They didn’t order them. But these test kits have been showing up regardless. Turns out, they are part of a scam that first targeted Medicare and may now be targeting you.
“I thought I was the only one getting charged,” said Catherine Thompson.
Thompson said she received four COVID-19 test kits, but the kits showed up in her mailbox without her ordering any.
“I thought, ‘Oh, it’s probably that’s the government sending me four free ones again,’ because I had gotten those during COVID before,” she said.
A few weeks later, four more boxes of test kits showed up. And a couple of weeks after that, she got four more boxes.
“One of those sets of boxes was totally expired when I got them,” Thompson said.
She reviewed her Medicare summary notice and saw charges for those test kits.
“Medicare was being charged $200 for a set of these test kits, and Medicare paid out $94,” she said. “And it was under my name. And I never ordered them.”
Turns out, scammers use stolen Medicare numbers to bill Medicare for COVID test kits. The scammers pocket the money, and people like Thompson get kits they did not order. She received 16 in all, adding up to 700 dollars in charges.
“It’s sad because our government is having to pay out all this money,” she said.
But the scam has evolved.
When the COVID-19 Health Emergency officially ended, Medicare stopped paying for most of these test kits. The Federal Trade Commission says when scammers get denials from Medicare, some will hound individuals for the money.
So, if you receive a COVID test kit out-of-the-blue, first don’t pay. By law, you’re not obligated to pay for things you didn’t order. Record any pertinent info from the box: lot numbers, addresses, expiration dates, and report it to the FTC.
Then, throw the kit away. Who knows if it is safe?
“It’s a wastage of money,” said Thompson. “And that really bothers me.”
Whether you’re getting COVID test kits or not, the feds say all Medicare recipients should look over each summary notice for services or products they didn’t order or didn’t get.