Identity theft is a serious crime that happens when someone uses your personal information without your consent to commit fraud or other crimes.
Personal information includes things like your name and your Social Security, Medicare, or credit card numbers.
- Don't give your personal information to someone who calls or comes to your home uninvited to get you to join a Medicare plan.
- Give personal information to only:
- Doctors, other health care providers, and plans approved by Medicare.
- Any insurer who pays benefits on your behalf.
Trusted people in the community who work with Medicare, like your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) or Social Security.
- Be familiar with how Medicare uses your personal information.
If you join a Medicare plan, the plan will let you know how it will use your personal information. Medicare fraud wastes a lot of money each year and results in higher health care costs and taxes for everyone. Con artists commit Medicare fraud by getting people's Medicare number. You can fight Medicare fraud with a few simple steps:
- Never give your Medicare number to get a free offer or gift.
- Always check your Medicare statement for errors, like equipment or services you never got.
Protect your Medicare by protecting your Medicare number.
- Ask questions. You have a right to know everything about your medical care including the costs billed to Medicare.
- Educate yourself about Medicare. Know your rights and know what a provider can and can't bill to Medicare.
- Use a calendar to record all of your doctor's appointments and what tests or X-rays you get. Then check your Medicare statements carefully to make sure you got each service listed and that all the details are correct. If you spend time in a hospital, make sure the admission date, discharge date, and diagnosis on your bill are correct.
- Be wary of providers who tell you that the item or service isn't usually covered, but they "know how to bill Medicare" so Medicare will pay.
- Don't be influenced by certain media advertising about your health. Many television and radio ads don't have your best interest at heart.