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Seniors: Protecting Yourself From Identity Theft

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Special Precautions for Your Medicare Card

Your Medicare card presents a particular danger to your identity, and new Medicare card scams appear regularly. Medicare is the only insurance company for whom it is not against the law to use a person’s social security number as an identifying number on insurance cards. That means if your card falls into the wrong hands, they’ll have one of the most important pieces of your identifying information.

To help protect yourself, consider changing the way you use your card. After you make the initial visit to a health care provider, copy your Medicare card, black out the last four digits of your social security number, and use that copy for future visits. Leave the original at home in a safe and secure place.

Also don’t give any Medicare information out over the phone or through email. One common Medicare scam is for a person to call, claiming to be from the Medicare office. The caller asks you to verify your Medicare account number so that benefits can be paid. The Medicare office will never ask you for this type of verification.

If you have been approached by someone other than your doctor requesting your Medicare information call 1-800-MEDICARE to report the issue. Your doctor should only request the information when you are in the office at a prescheduled appointment. That Medicare phone number is also the one to use if you have any questions about when it’s appropriate to provide your Medicare number or to verify if requests for information are legitimate. Never give the number out if you’re not certain the request is genuine.

Responding to Suspected Identity Theft

If you suspect that someone has been tampering with your credit or identity, immediately contact one of the three credit reporting agencies to place a fraud alert on your credit report.

Equifax: 800-525-6285 Experien: 888-397-3742 TransUnion: 800-680-7289

By law, when one company is contacted, they are required to contact the other two and all three of them offer at least one free credit report per year. Use it to monitor your credit for suspicious activity.

If you have evidence of identity theft, immediately notify your local law enforcement agency as well all financial institutions and credit card companies. You should also contact the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft hotline at 877-438-4338 or online at www.consumer.gov/idtheft.

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