Unfortunately, there are always going to be people looking to scam people and programs for money they didn’t earn. Regardless of why people prey on other people and look to get something for nothing, it’s a serious problem that every Medicare enrollee needs to be aware of you.
Over the past several years, identity theft has become one of the most prevalent forms of crime. Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information without your consent – and oftentimes, without even your knowledge – in order to commit fraud and / or other crimes.
Personal information can include items such as your name and Social Security number. But it can also include credit card numbers – and even your Medicare identification number. In fact, when someone has access to your Medicare and other medical related information, he or she could be able to see a doctor, obtain prescription medications, or even file false claims. With all of this information, it’s easy to see why protecting yourself against theft is one of the best things that you can do for yourself and your family.
In addition, if the identity thief’s health care information is mixed in with yours, it is possible that your own treatment, insurance, and payment records – and even the information on your personal credit report – could be negatively affected.
How to Detect Medical Identity Theft
While identity thieves can be tricky, there are ways that you can detect potential identity theft – and in turn, help to protect yourself from it. One way to do so is to read your medical and insurance statements in their entirety. While this may take time, these statements can oftentimes show you the warning signs of identity theft taking place.
For example, in the Explanation of Benefit section, be sure to double check that the services provided, the name of the provider (or providers) and the date or dates of services all match up correctly. If not, it could be a sign that someone else is trying to use your information to have their claims paid. Therefore, if the claims that are paid do not match the care that you’ve actually received, be sure to contact your Medicare health plan immediately to report the issue.
Other potential signs of identity theft may include:
- The receipt of bills for health care services or equipment that you did not receive
- Calls from debt collectors regarding medical bills that you do not owe on
- Medical collection information and / or notices that show up on your credit report that you do not recognize
- Notices from your Medicare health plan stating that you have reached your benefit limit
Helping to Prevent Identity Theft By Keeping Your Personal Information Safe
One of the very best ways that you can help to prevent from becoming a victim of identity theft is to take precautions in keeping your personal and Medicare-related information safe. Some ways in which you can do this include the following:
- Do not provide any of your personal information to an individual who contacts you – especially if they are uninvited – who is pushing you to join a Medicare or Medicare Advantage plan
- Become familiar with how Medicare uses your personal information, such as privacy policies and information security rules
- Only provide your personal information to trusted professionals such as your doctors and others in the medical field; insurance company representatives; and those whom you know work with the Social Security Administration.
By taking such precautions you can make sure that your information is safe and that you can rest easy.
Identity theft is an awful ordeal to go through. If your identity is stolen, you may not even be aware of it for several months or even years down the road. You may only find out months later because of a letter from the IRA or a letter for payment for services that you never received. To keep you from every having to experience the pain and frustration of identity of theft, you should constantly be aware of common schemes to steal your information.
If you’ve had your identity stolen, you can feel confused and lost. Once you realized it’s been stolen, there are several steps that you should take. The first thing that you should do is get all of your evidence together, which means getting all of the documentation that shows you may have had your identity stolen. After that you should alert every other party that should know, this will include Medicare, any credit card companies you hold a card with, banks, and any others. After that you should place a credit freeze on your file, this will prevent the thief from continuing to use your information.
Having your identity stolen can ruin your credit score, leave you paying for purchases or services you didn’t make, and can also cause Medicare to decline reimbursing healthcare givers for your services or treatment. You could spend years and years working to get your credit back to where it was, but nobody should have to go without the health care that they deserve. Don’t let a thief keep you from enjoying the retirement that you’ve always dream of.
If you have any questions about protecting yourself from identity theft, Medicare coverage, or a Medigap policy, feel free to contact one of our agents at any time. It’s vital that you and your personal information are as secure as possible. You shouldn’t have to deal with the additional stress of having your identity stolen and all of the complications that it brings.