Minimize the risk of Medical Identity Theft

Frank Abagnale (remember the movie based on his life: Catch Me if You Can?) Has written a book called Scam Me if you Can. This is such a valuable book on inside warnings about beings scammed.. One of the chapters is about avoiding having your medical identity stolen. ( Medical records go for 10x the amount of other information on the black market- think about how much it costs to have a major surgery?) .

If you are covered by medicare; you are especially vulnerable . Until recently, social security numbers were on your medicare card. New Medicare cards bearing a new identification number- you should have yours
by now.

Not having your social security number on the card helps decrease the possibility of identity theft however the longtime use of your Social Security
number for Medicare has allowed scammers to trick Medicare recipients into giving away their Social Security number. Some scammers will call you,
and ask you to pay a processing fee to receive your new card. Or they’ll say they need to verify your Social Security number in order to send your new one. This is fraud. The cards are free, and Medicare would not call you to verify your Social Security number—the administration already has it.

You can’t prevent data breaches or employee theft. But you can
use these steps to spot problems and protect yourself.
• Monitor your bank and credit card accounts to check for
medical costs you did not incur, especially if you’ve been
notified of a breach of your medical information. Act
promptly to correct the record. Report scams to your
insurer and the three major credit-reporting firms—
Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
• Read your “explanation of benefits” statements and your
Medicare Summary Notices (received quarterly) thoroughly and carefully. This is the paperwork your health
insurance company provides that shows the doctor visits,
tests, and services the company has paid out for you. If
you see a payment for a service you don’t recognize, follow
up on it immediately and persistently, until it is corrected
or resolved. It could simply be a billing error, but it could
also be an indication of attempted medical identity theft.
This is often the only clue you get until the thief has
made off with thousands—or hundreds of thousands—of
dollars in medical services using your name. Read every
letter from medical insurers and healthcare providers,
including those that say “This is not a bill.” If you see a
doctor’s name or treatment date that looks unfamiliar,
speak up. And don’t hesitate to ask someone you trust to
look over this paperwork with you. Sometimes a second
set of eyes will catch a suspicious charge you might have
• Bring your Medicare or insurance card to the initial
visit with a provider. After that, carry only a copy of the
card, with all but the last four digits blacked out.
• Keep your medical bills, records, and any information
with your insurance, Medicare, or account numbers in a
safe place. If you do not need the information contained
in these papers, use a micro-cut shredder to dispose of
them—and that includes prescription drug labels and
• Unless you’ve placed the call, do not give out personal
information over the phone about your healthcare or
health insurance. Do not respond to emails that ask you
to give this information by return email.
• Be extremely skeptical of offers of “free” medical services.
Be wary of giving your medical information to anyone
promising you something for nothing.
• Avoid posting on social media about any surgery, medical
procedure, or visit to a specialist. Medical identity thieves
can appropriate the information to augment a false identity they assume with your credentials.
• Ask all your doctors to give you a copy of everything in
your file (you may have to pay for copies) so you’ll have a
paper trail if needed.
• Avoid getting screenings (free or otherwise) at unfamiliar
health fairs or storefronts that require your insurance
• Hang up on phone calls from people promising free supplies or asking for information about your health, healthcare, or health insurance.
• If you have a caregiver or housekeeper coming into your
home, make sure to keep medication bottles locked
up. With everyone carrying smartphones with cameras
included, it’s easy to snap a photo of the medication label
to get a refill.

If you receive Medicare and think that you have been a victim of medical identity theft, you have dedicated resources
• Report suspicious calls regarding your healthcare or
health insurance to 800-medicare (800-633-4227).
• Each state has a Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) that can
give you reliable information and help with all your Medicare questions, including those about possible fraud or
identity theft. You can locate your state’s office at www Staff here
will also help you determine whether fraud or theft has
• If you have established that someone else is using your
Medicare benefits, follow the same procedure as with any
other kind of identity theft and begin by making a report

What are your strategies from protecting yourself from being scammed? Share in comments your hints for the rest of us.