8 Tips to Help Fight Health Care HacksPosted by Medicare Made Clear
Medical ID theft and fraud is on the rise — and the statistics are staggering. These crimes have nearly doubled in the last five years. From 2013 to 2014, 500,000 new cases were reported.1 Medical ID theft and fraud costs the 2.3 million victims about $20 billion in out-of-pocket expenses.1
Medical Identity Theft and Medical Identity Fraud
Medical identity theft involves the theft of Personally Identifiable Information (PII), such as the name, Social Security number and birthdate and/or the Protected Health Information (PHI) of another person for personal gain. When this information is used to obtain medical services, prescription drugs, insurance or any other financial gains, it’s called medical fraud.
The harm of medical theft and fraud doesn’t stop at financial loss. It can affect the victim’s health as well. For example, when the fraudster uses another person’s identity or personal information to get medical services, the fraudster’s diagnosis, health information and even illegal drug use may get added to the medical record of the victim. This may lead to future misdiagnosis, mistreatment and delayed healthcare for the victim.
Protect Your Private Information
Fraudsters find many ways to try to get your personal medical and financial information. They may call you offering free medical services. They may show up on your doorstep selling Medicare-related products. They may even pose as Medicare representatives.
Following a few tips may help keep your personal information safe.
- Don’t give your personal information, such as your Medicare, credit card or bank account numbers to someone who calls or comes to your home uninvited. They may say they are from Medicare, your bank or other trusted source. Neither your bank nor Medicare will ever call you asking for this information. Don’t worry about appearing rude. Hang up the phone or close the door.
- Don’t respond to emails asking for Medicare, credit card or bank account numbers.
- Don’t give your Medicare number to anyone other than your doctor or another authorized Medicare provider.
- Medicare or your private insurance provider sends you periodic statements detailing the health care you have received. Review the statements as soon as you receive them. Follow up on anything you see that you don’t understand.
- Review your credit card and bank statements as soon as they arrive. If something doesn’t look right, call the credit card company or your bank right away.
- Don’t give your Medicare information away in exchange for free medical services or products. If the service or product is free, they have no need for your insurance information. This may be another scam to get your Medicare number.
- Shred or tear up anything that has your personal information on it.
- Store your Medicare, credit card and bank account information in a safe place.
If you are the victim of any identity theft, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/idtheft or call 1-877-438-4338. If you are the victim of Medicare fraud, you can call the Medicare helpline to report it (1-800-MEDICARE or 1-800-633-4227, TTY 1-877-486-2048, 24 hours a day, seven days a week).
You can also call the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) office in your state. SMP workers and volunteers can help you determine if you have been a victim of fraud. If you have, they will forward your complaint to government investigators. To find the Senior Medicare Patrol in your state, go to www.SMPresource.org.
For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.
2014 Study on Medical Identity Theft: MedIDFraud.org
Medicare Scams: How to Spot Them and How to Stop Them: Medicare Made Clear
Fight Fraud: Tips to avoid being victimized by medical fraud and identity theft — NIH National Institutes on Aging
1 2014 Study on Medical Identity Theft: MedIDFraud.org, March 31, 2015