Are you a bargain hunter? Always looking for the best deal or ready for the next best thing? If someone offered you a state-of-the-art arthritis kit and said Medicare would cover it, would you be interested? There are lots of benefits that come with aging, and discounts are one of them. But discounts and deals that sound too good to be true are one way that fraudsters may try to steal your identity.
When someone steals or unlawfully uses personal information like your Social Security number or your Medicare number, it’s called identity theft. 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.
Medicare is fighting health care fraud, waste, and abuse every day. An important part of that is preventing identity theft. Right now, your Medicare number is based on a Social Security number—yours or someone else’s. Starting in April 2018, Medicare will be replacing the Social Security-based Medicare number with a new Medicare number, and Medicare will mail you a new Medicare card with your new number. You don’t have to do anything to get your new card and new number. And Medicare will NEVER call you and ask for personal information for you to get your new card.
Remember, the first and best line of defense against fraud is you. You can help fight Medicare fraud in 2 simple steps:
- Protect your Medicare number—treat it like you treat your credit card number.
- Check your Medicare statement for errors, like equipment or services you never got.
Learn more about how you can fight Medicare fraud. And find out how to spot, report, and stop fraud, and protect yourself from identity theft with help from the Senior Medicare Patrol.