"Free" Scooter Scam

Everywhere you turn you see advertisements for AFree Scooters.  People even come knocking on your door and offer to help you get this scooter.  They might go so far as to offer to drive you to the clinic, and if you are lucky, the trip includes breakfast or lunch.  You might even be offered money to provide names of your friends to these Aconcerned people.  But with all things Atoo good to be true, this offer of a free scooter is really just a way to defraud Medicare of your tax dollars.

The truth is Medicare will pay for a scooter if you qualify, and you should have a scooter if you need it.  What you don’t need is strangers taking you to a doctor you do not know to get you one.  Your own doctor can qualify you and direct you to a reputable dealer.

When someone you don’t know knocks on your door or offers to get you a free scooter, what they may be doing is basically stealing your tax dollars from Medicare.

How does this work?

Someone comes to your door and offers to help you get a free scooter but first they need your Medicare number.  Your Medicare number is the same as your Social Security Number (they will usually leave a business card, but when you try the phone numbers in a few weeks they are disconnected).  Once you have provided this information, a couple of different things might happen.  They will come back with a scooter, or they will take you to a clinic to see their doctor, or they may never come back.  But whether or not you get the scooter, your Medicare account could still be charged.

If they do get you a scooter, they usually refer to it as a wheelchair and tell you the cost to Medicare is around $5,000.  This is a distortion of the truth.  The truth is a power scooter costs around $2,000 and is never referred as a wheelchair by Medicare.  You are given this information so you will not be suspicious when your Medicare Summary Notice comes and shows a power wheelchair at a cost of over $5,000.  If Medicare had been properly billed for the product you received, your Medicare Summary Notice would use the initials POV and show a charge for about $2,000.

Why should you care if Medicare gets billed for something you did not really get?  For one thing, it might affect your ability to get a product you need in the future. But why would you work with strangers when your own doctor can help you get what you need?

What can you do?

If someone you don’t know offers to help you get something for free, stop and ask questions.  Don’t provide any personal information until you have checked them out thoroughly. The best way to do this is to call the Better Business Bureau.  If you suspect that you have been a victim of Medicare fraud, take the time to report it by calling the Medicare Fraud Hotline at the Better Business Bureau at 713-341-6184 or 1-800-275-3626.  Remember, you are the best defense against thieves who prey on people by stealing your tax dollars.