The effort in preventing identity fraud has many components, and recently the government went more high-tech and stepped their battle up a notch in preventing Medicare fraud. They recently opened a $3.6 million command center that is said to potentially be a turning point in winning the war against Medicare fraud which is estimated to cost more than $60 billion annually.
Medicare fraud is something everyone should be concerned about. It doesn’t just hurt the government, but ultimately hurts all of us through higher taxes. Medicare fraud basically entails an intentional falsification or deception of information that involves Medicare. Just a few examples include false medical insurance claims, using another person’s Medicare information to obtain care or medical equipment, or billing for services that were not actually received by the patient.
Preventing identity fraud involving Medicare
Avoid becoming a victim of this type of identity fraud through the following:
- Never give anyone your Medicare number other than your physician or Medicare provider. Think of your Medicare number in the same way you would your PIN numbers attached to a personal bank account.
- Secure your medical records. Your records reveal the pertinent information a potential scam artist can use to perpetrate a crime. Keep medical records in a locked cabinet, and if they are on your computer make sure they are password protected.
- If anyone comes to your door, or calls, in attempt to sell medical supplies or medications, never accept the offer no matter how legitimate it may seem.
- If any medical practitioner or supplier offers items or services that you know are not usually covered by Medicare but claim that they can bill the expenses elsewhere, do not accept as this is most likely Medicare fraud.
- Review your Medicare summaries or explanation of benefits carefully. Compare your services to what has been billed, and if you notice any discrepancies call Medicare.
Medicare fraud can lead to identity theft and potentially endanger lives
Medicare fraud doesn’t just cost citizens taxpayer dollars. According to Gary Cantrell, Deputy Inspector General for Investigations for HHS, “Medicare fraud also exposes some of our most vulnerable citizens to identity theft, and, in some cases, endangers patients’ lives.”
In Medicare fraud, the victim’s personal information is exposed to disreputable people and can lead to identity fraud which can ruin an individual’s credit and potentially cost them thousands of dollars. If the wrong medical information is entered into their record, it can potentially cost the victim’s life by receiving inappropriate medical care.
It’s important for all consumers to arm themselves with knowledge about every type of identity fraud and take all of the crucial steps in protecting their personal information to lessen the chances of becoming a victim.