Calls offering free medical braces continue to scam seniors and tax payers

It starts with a robocall that claims you may qualify for free medical braces, but it can end with Medicare or your insurance getting billed hundreds of dollars.

The medical brace scam continues to target seniors despite the government crackdown. Taxpayers are left paying the bill for these medical braces that seniors say their doctors didn't order nor do these seniors want.

We first exposed this scam last fall. Several seniors in the Triangle contacted us after they got medical braces they say they didn't order. Raleigh resident Emmett McGhee was sent two knee and two back braces.

"I didn't order anything," he said. "In the last 12 months I bet you I had 10, 12, 14 calls about back brace and a knee brace."

The 87-year-old claims he gets endless calls about medical braces. I asked him if he wanted the supplies and he said: "Heck no, I want to buy local anything like if it goes wrong, I can talk to somebody about it."

Despite saying no, companies send the braces and then bill Medicare.

After our investigation, the federal government took action against several telemedicine companies, dozens of durable medical equipment companies, along with doctors and company executives that the feds say were part of one of the largest health care fraud schemes that cost taxpayers nearly $1 billion.

Despite the bust, the calls continue and seniors are upset. The US Department of Health and Human Services issued a fraud alert about the nationwide brace scam.

Here at the Troubleshooter Takeaways when it comes to this scam:

  • If you receive a call from someone offering you a free brace that will be billed to Medicare, hang up immediately.
  • If medical equipment is delivered to you, don't accept it unless it was ordered by your physician. Refuse the delivery or return it to the sender. Keep a record of the sender's name and the date you returned the items.
  • Be suspicious of anyone who offers you free medical equipment and then requests your Medicare number. If your personal information is compromised, it may be used in other fraud schemes.
  • A physician that you know and trust should approve any requests for equipment to address your medical needs.
  • Medicare beneficiaries should be cautious of unsolicited requests for their Medicare numbers. If anyone other than your physician's office requests your Medicare information, do not provide it.
  • If you suspect Medicare fraud, report it.
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