Pro­tect Your Iden­tity: Don’t be­come a vic­tim of medi­care fraud

The Avenue News - - THROUGH THE YEARS - By SHERRY KOLBE, SHIP MAN­AGER, BAL­TI­MORE COUNTY DE­PART­MENT OF AG­ING

Medi­care fraud wastes bil­lions of dol­lars each year and cre­ates higher health care costs for ev­ery­one. Medi­care scams also are one of the lead­ing causes of iden­tity theft. Here are some things you can do to re­main vig­i­lant and avoid be­com­ing a vic­tim. Brush up on com­mon scams. Visit sites like Iden­ti­fytheft.gov to find out about re­cent scams and learn the warn­ing signs of iden­tity theft. Keep per­sonal in­for­ma­tion con­fi­den­tial. Never give your per­sonal in­for­ma­tion to any­one un­less you have ini­ti­ated the con­tact and know who you’re deal­ing with. Re­mem­ber, nei­ther Medi­care nor the So­cial Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion will ever call you. They will con­tact you by mail, not phone.

Al­ways check your Medi­care Sum­mary No­tices and Part D Ex­pla­na­tions of Ben­e­fits. Care­fully re­view these no­tices. Look for any signs that Medi­care has paid for

vis­its, ser­vices or drugs you never re­ceived. Keep a care­ful record of doc­tor vis­its and other ap­point­ments and check it against your no­tice. Shred un­needed doc­u­ments. Doc­u­ments that con­tain per­sonal iden­ti­fy­ing in­for­ma­tion should go through a shred­der be­fore they go into the re­cy­cling bin. Or­der your free credit

re­ports. Or­der at least one free credit re­port each year from An­nu­alCred­itRe­port. com (1-877-322-8228). If you think your iden­tity has been stolen, re­port it to the Fed­eral Trade Com­mis­sion. If loans or credit cards have been falsely opened in your name, call the bank or credit card com­pany di­rectly.

If you sus­pect you or some­one in your care is a vic­tim of Medi­care fraud, re­port it to Medi­care at 1-800-633-4227, the Bal­ti­more County Se­nior Medi­care Pa­trol (SMP) at 410887-2059, or the U.S. Of­fice of the In­spec­tor General at 1-800-HHS-TIPS.

You are the first and best line of de­fense against Medi­care fraud.

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