Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General

Division of Consumer Affairs
Reni Erdos, Director

For Immediate Release:
May 6, 2004

For Further Information Contact:
Genene Morris, Jeff Lamm 973-504-6327

Attorney General Issues Prescription Drug Card Alert

NEWARK - Attorney General Peter C. Harvey and Consumer Affairs Director Reni Erdos are warning New Jersey seniors to be on guard against phony Medicare discount drug cards.

This week the federal government began allowing people with Medicare who don't have outpatient prescription drug coverage through Medicaid to purchase a Medicare-approved drug discount card. The program is voluntary, and those who enroll can begin using the cards June 1.

Medicare has approved a limited number of companies to sell discount cards, which will cost no more than $30 per year and will bear a "Medicare Approved" seal. A list of the Medicare-approved cards can be found online at www.medicare.gov under "Prescription Drug and Other Assistance Programs," or consumers can call Medicare toll-free at 1-800-633-4227. Consumers can obtain further information from those sources about the program and additional benefits available for lower income seniors. There are legitimate prescription drug discount cards that have not sought approval from Medicare and are not part of the Medicare program but that may offer savings to certain individuals. Consumers, however, should use caution in selecting a card.

Although Consumer Affairs has not yet received any complaints in New Jersey, other states have reported that seniors have received misleading mail and phone solicitations from companies claiming to represent the Medicare program. In some cases, there have been reports that solicitors have asked Medicare beneficiaries for their bank information, Social Security number or credit card number. Such information can be used by con artists engaged in identity theft.

"Senior citizens enrolling in the program should use care to choose a card that is legitimate and meets their needs," Attorney General Harvey said. "They should verify the card with Medicare."

"Unfortunately, experience tells us that crooks see programs like this as an opportunity to line their pockets by taking advantage of trusting seniors," Director Erdos said.

If you have received a suspicious solicitation, call Consumer Affairs at 800-242-5846 or 973-504-6200 (if outside New Jersey) or log onto www.njconsumeraffairs.com for a complaint form.

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Posted May 2004