With so much of our contact information saved by virtual means, the problem of identity theft has become more and more prevalent — and it has no age barriers. Identity theft is a serious crime that can affect anyone of any age. One way to help protect yourself or someone you love from identity theft to is make sure that all Medicare information is kept private and guarded. If you are older or care for someone who is, here are some important things to know about guarding Medicare information.
How to Protect Medicare Information
It’s important to make sure that your Medicare information and any contact information connect to it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. While some things might be out of our control, others are not. So let’s cover the things that can be controlled.
Use your new Medicare card. By the beginning of the year 2019, everyone on Medicare should have received a new ID card. These cards were issued specifically to discourage and prevent identity theft. Unlike the old cards, which had a red and blue stripe on the top, the new 2019 cards have a solid blue banner on the top and a red stripe on the bottom. (See the image attached to this article for a visual representation of the new card.)
But most importantly, they have a unique Medicare number that is no longer the user’s social security number. The new number is called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier or MBI.
If this new Medicare card has been lost or if a new card was never received, go to MyMedicare.gov as soon as possible to create an account and be issued a replacement card. You can also go to this link to look up your new MBI number.
Don’t share the new Medicare number. It’s important to keep these MBI numbers private. Don’t share the new number with anyone who contacts you by phone, email, or by approaching you in person. Permission for access to your number should only be given to people that 1) you know personally, 2) trust with your personal information, and 3) with whom you have a very strong need to do so. All three conditions must exist. Otherwise, you are putting your information at risk to be stolen.
Examples of such people with whom you can trust your personal information would include a health fiduciary, a receptionist you check in with at a doctor’s office, insurers working on your behalf, or someone working for or with Medicare or the State Health Insurance Assistance Program.
Remember that a representative of Medicare will only call and ask for personal information in these following 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 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) can call you if you’ve called and left a message or a representative said that someone would call you back.
But even then, be very careful about what information you give. Don’t allow anyone to scare you or bully you into giving any personal information. If you do not know the person who is calling — don’t give that person any private contact information! Never give your new Medicare number to anyone who calls and asks for it over the phone. You should instead hang up and immediately call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) to see if the call was legitimate and to speak to someone you know you can trust.
You can also CLICK HERE to learn exactly how Medicare uses your private information.
And if you suspect identity theft has occurred and/or personal information was given to someone who shouldn’t have it, don’t hesitate to contact the Federal Trade Commission immediately.
Information courtesy of Medicare.gov.