You might be surprised to learn that criminals are after your Medicare information. Why would they even want that? Are they planning to use your plan to obtain medical care?
Well, technically that can happen, when someone is desperate for healthcare services. But in most situations, Medicare information is stolen for more creative purposes. Your card contains information that could help a con artist steal your identity, with the true goal of taking out loans or getting credit cards in your name. And there are fraudulent companies out there, who simply charge their fake products and services to your plan.
Medicare fraud is unbelievably common, and to a large extent you are responsible for protecting your own information. Take these five steps to help prevent fraud.
Keep track of your card. Only carry your card when you need it (for medical appointments, or when you visit the pharmacy). If stolen, the information on your card could be used to commit fraud.
Be wary of callers. Anyone who calls you, pretending to be from Medicare, is likely a con artist. Ditto with companies that call to offer you various products and services. If you need it, talk to your doctor about it. And whatever you do, never give out personal information like your Medicare number over the phone.
Read your Medicare Summary Notices. You should receive these notices from your plan administrator on a regular basis, detailing charges to your plan. If you spot claims that look like errors, report them to the administrator immediately. They could be fraudulent claims.
Be wary of manipulation. Be careful with sales pitches that make you feel emotional. Con artists use your fear to push you into an impulsive decision.
Don’t fall for coronavirus scams. Any time there is a public panic over an event, con artists harness that emotion for their schemes. Yes, there is one mail-order test for coronavirus available, but it will be ordered by your doctor. Anyone calling to sell you coronavirus tests or treatments is probably a scammer.
And of course, just check with your doctor first! The best person with whom to discuss your healthcare and Medicare information is your personal physician. They can guide you toward the right decisions for your medical needs, without the risk of Medicare fraud.