Is Your Medicare ID Card Putting You at Risk?
July 14, 2017 : H&R Block
A Medicare ID card not only serves as your proof of health insurance, but it also includes sensitive personal information that should be protected. If you have a card, you show it at every medical visit in order to validate Medicare coverage. But did you know both your Social Security Number and your date of birth are listed on your Medicare ID card? The number listed as your Medicare ID is identical to your Social Security Number. Careless exposure or misuse of this information increases a Medicare cardholder’s risk of tax identity theft.
How Do Medicare ID Scammers Work?
Scammers can obtain the number listed on a Medicare ID card in many ways, and typically, unsuspecting seniors are the targets. Once scammers get their hands on a Medicare ID card, they could use it to file a fraudulent tax return in hopes of claiming someone else’s refund.
Here are common instances of Medicare ID breaches:
- A Medicare ID is stolen by a caregiver, nursing home, or medical facility employee and is then sold to an organized crime unit.
- Fake companies offer free or discounted products, services, or tests requiring seniors to input their Medicare ID number to obtain it.
- Telemarketing campaigns pose as legit medical institutions, promoting seniors to give their ID number over the phone.
- Medical records are breached.
- Scammers can also pinpoint and contact financially disadvantaged people and offer to pay them for their Medicare number.
What Can You Do to Prevent Medicare Fraud?
Anyone with a Medicare ID card could be a potential victim to scammers. Luckily, there are a number of steps you can take to protect yourself. Here are a few:
Step 1: Set Yourself Up For Success
- Don’t sign a blank medical form.
- Always read and keep a copy of any document or agreement you sign.
- If someone calls claiming to be from Medicare or the government asking for your Medicare ID number, hang up. Medicare representatives will not call you – they typically communicate with beneficiaries via mail.
- Anytime someone requests your Medicare ID, make sure they are legitimate.
- Don’t carry your Medicare ID card on you 100% of the time. Store it in a secure place and only bring it with you to medical, dental, or pharmacy visits.
Step 2: Use Resources at Your Fingertips
- Check your credit score and credit report regularly
- Check your medical records for abnormal activity
- Apply for IRS protections against tax identity theft
Protecting your important personal data – like your Social Security number and Medicare ID information – is critical. To learn more about tax identity theft protection, view information on Tax Identity Shield® now. (Existing Tax Identity Shield® members can sign in here.)