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Fight Medicare fraud - guard your card

Mountain Democrat - 12/31/2017

If you have Medicare, you can protect your identity and help prevent health care fraud by guarding your Medicare card like you would a credit card.

Identity theft arising from stolen Medicare numbers is becoming more common. Medicare is in the process of removing Social Security numbers from Medicare cards and replacing them with a new, unique number for each person with Medicare.

Medicare will mail new Medicare cards with the new numbers between April 2018 and April 2019.

The new card won't change your Medicare coverage or benefits. And there's no charge for your new card.

But watch out for scammers.

Thieves may try to get your current Medicare number and other personal information by contacting you about your new Medicare card. They may claim to be from Medicare and use various phony pitches to get your Medicare number, such as:

Asking you to confirm your Medicare or Social Security number so they can send you a new card.

Telling you there's a charge for your new card and they need to verify your personal information.

Threatening to cancel your health benefits if you don't share your Medicare number or other personal information.

Don't fall for any of this.

Don't share your Medicare number or other personal information with anyone who contacts you by phone, email or by approaching you in person, unless you've given them permission in advance.

Medicare or someone representing Medicare, will only call and ask for personal information in these situations:

A Medicare health or drug plan can call you if you're already a member of the plan. The agent who helped you join can also call you.

A customer service representative from (800) MEDICARE can call if you've called and left a message or a representative said that someone would call you back.

Only give personal information like your Medicare number to doctors, insurers acting on your behalf or trusted people in the community who work with Medicare, like counselors from the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).

If someone calls you and asks for your Medicare number or other personal information, hang up and call (800) MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

There are other steps you can take to protect yourself from identity theft that can lead to health care fraud.

Don't ever let anyone borrow or pay to use your Medicare number. And review your Medicare Summary Notice to be sure you and Medicare are being charged only for items and services you actually received.

To learn more about protecting yourself from identity theft and health care fraud visit Medicare.gov/fraud or contact your local Senior Medicare Patrol at smpresource.org.

Greg Dill is Medicare's regional administrator for Arizona, California, Nevada, Hawaii and the Pacific Territories. To get answers to Medicare questions call (800) MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

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Tags: B8, printed

Printed in the December 25, 2017 edition on page B8 | Published on December 25, 2017 | Last Modified on December 22, 2017 at 5:12 pm

 
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