Did you know the number of identity theft victims age 65 or older increased from 2.1 million in 2012 to 2.6 million in 2014? In fact, thieves consider your Medicare number and other protected health information more valuable than credit card information because people can reuse them to bill Medicare for services that you didn’t get. When people steal your identity and bill Medicare for items or services you didn’t get, it drives up costs for everyone.
Starting in April 2018, Medicare is replacing the Social Security-based Medicare number with a new Medicare number, and will mail you a new Medicare card with your new number. FINALLY!! You don’t have to do anything to get your new card and new number. Be aware, I’m sure there will be thieves that will try to take advantage of this change so if someone calls you and asks for your Medicare number, hang up! Medicare will NEVER call you and ask for personal information for you to get your new card so if someone calls you, it’s a scam. Please let your loved ones on Medicare know of the changes and of the possible scams that will arise.
Remember, the first and best line of defense against fraud is you. You can help fight Medicare fraud in 2 simple steps:
1) Protect your Medicare number—treat it like you treat your credit card number. If fact, if your Doctors office already has a copy of your Medicare card, make a color copy and put your original away with your social security card. Cut out the first 5 digits of the color copy and laminate it. Carry the copy with you instead of the original.
2) Check your Medicare statement for errors, like equipment or services you never got. Many of my clients have had this happen. Report it to Medicare and they’ll investigate it for you.