A Unique Approach to Preventing Medicare Fraud
on Monday, July 16, 2018
Security & Fraud Information
It’s a sad reality that older adults are frequent targets of identity theft, with some fraudsters even resorting to obtaining personal information through Medicare accounts. To avoid Medicare fraud, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau suggests protecting a Medicare ID card like you would a credit card or bank account.
New Medicare cards replace Social Security Numbers with a unique Medicare ID number, but that won’t help if someone is able to obtain your card. By thinking of a Medicare ID as a credit card, you can use safeguards you already have in place to protect yourself from identity theft.
Tips for Protecting Your Medicare ID
Follow these simple steps to keep your Medicare ID safe:
- Keep your Medicare ID in a safe place.
- Only share Medicare information with your health care providers.
- If someone calls or emails, claiming to be from Medicare, hang up or delete the message. A Medicare representative will only contact you if you have requested to be contacted.
- Just like with bank accounts, monitor your Medicare statements often for fraudulent activity and billing mistakes. Statements can be viewed at MyMedicare.gov.
- Report suspicious activity by calling 1-800-MEDICARE or 1-800-633-4227.
Beware of These Medicare Scams
Medicare has set a deadline of April 2019 in which to send the new ID cards to Medicare beneficiaries. The cards will be mailed automatically, and Medicare will not call beneficiaries prior to mailing the cards. Fraudsters have used this timeline and the confusion over the new cards to their advantage. Following are some examples of Medicare schemes that have been reported recently.
- Processing fee – If you receive a call requesting a processing fee for a new Medicare ID card, hang up the phone. There is no fee for the new cards, which will be mailed automatically.
- Temporary card – If someone calls, asking you to purchase a temporary card to use until you receive their new card, hang up the phone. Existing cards can be used through December 31, 2019.
- Personal information verification – If someone contacts you, requesting that you verify personal information, hang up the phone. It is never wise to give personal information out over the phone.
- Lost card – If someone calls, informing you that your new card was lost or stolen, hang up the phone. Mailing out the new Medicare ID cards will not be completed until April 2019. If you have not yet received yours, continue using your existing card. If you do not receive the new card by April 2019, contact Medicare directly.
- Mail in your old card – If someone calls, asking you to mail in your existing card, hang up the phone. You can continue using the existing card until you receive your new card. Once you receive your new card, destroy the old card so your Social Security Number is no longer visible.
It's important to act cautiously when it comes to your Medicare ID. If you are contacted by anyone claiming to be from Medicare and you are unsure if it is legitimate or not, contact Medicare directly at 1-800-MEDICARE or 1-800-633-4227.