Oct 25, 2011

4 Ways to Protect Your Identity and Personal Information

Member for

1 year

Peter Budetti, Deputy Administrator for Program Integrity

  1. Guard your information.
  2. Be wary of giveaways.
  3. Don’t lend your identity.
  4. If you spot something, say something

These are 4 simple ways to protect your identity and personal information from Medicare fraud, but they can be difficult to do if you’re caught off guard. 

During Medicare Open Enrollment - between now and December 7 - you can expect to hear a lot about the choices, benefits, and lower costs you have when it comes to Medicare.

Open Enrollment is a great time for you to review and compare your Medicare choices and make you have the coverage that fits your needs. Unfortunately, it’s also a popular time for Medicare fraud schemes. 

During Open Enrollment, you’ll find Medicare information all around you – in the mail, on TV, in the paper, and on your computer.  Here are a few reminders to keep you safe from those who might not have your best interests in mind:    

1.    Guard your Medicare and Social Security numbers – treat them like you’d treat your credit cards.

You’ll be hearing so much about Medicare during Open Enrollment, that it may not surprise you to get phone calls or visits to your house from people selling Medicare plans.  It’s illegal for someone to call and ask for your Medicare number, Social Security number, or bank or credit card information.  A Medicare representative or a private insurance plan working with Medicare will never call and ask for this information, and we will never call you or come to your home uninvited to sell Medicare products.  If a sales agent does call or visit you uninvited they are violating the Medicare marketing rules.

2.    Be suspicious of people offering free medical equipment or services.  

Anyone who offers you free medical equipment or services and then requests your Medicare number is tricking you – if it’s really free, they don’t need your Medicare number. It’s illegal, and it’s not worth it!

3.    Don’t let anyone borrow or pay you to use your Medicare card or your personal information.

If someone asks you for your Medicare number, stop and think. If you wouldn’t feel comfortable giving that person your credit card number, don’t give them your Medicare number. 

4.   Most importantly, if you suspect Medicare fraud, let us know! Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

Medicare is stronger than ever, and we need your help to keep it that way. The health care law is doing a lot to help us fight Medicare fraud and make America stronger, safer, and healthier.  Want to help? Get tips on protecting yourself from identity theft. Learn more about spotting and reporting fraud, and learn about our Senior Medicare Patrol volunteers who are teaching people like you how to spot, report, and stop fraud, and protect themselves from identity theft.

Remember, a little preparation goes a long way. If you experience a Medicare fraud scheme - walk away, hang up, close the door, or say “no thanks.”