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Guarding Your Medicare Number

Friday, December 9, 2016

Health care fraud drives up costs for everyone in the health care system. One way to protect yourself from fraud is to protect your Medicare number. Medicare fraud can happen when identity thieves use someone's Medicare number; so treat your number as you would a credit card.

Follow these important steps to protect yourself from fraud:

  • Don't share your Medicare number or other personal information with anyone who contacts you by phone, email or in-person, unless you've given them permission in advance. Medicare will NEVER contact you for your Medicare number or other personal information.
  • Tell your friends and neighbors to protect their Medicare number.
  • Don't ever let anyone borrow or pay to use your Medicare number.
  • Review your Medicare Summary Notice to be sure you and Medicare are only being charged for actual services.
  • Be wary of salespeople who knock on your door or call you uninvited to try to sell you a product or service.
  • Don't accept items received through the mail that you didn't order. You should refuse the delivery and/or return it to the sender. Keep a record of the sender's name and the date you returned the items.

And if you're looking to enroll in a Medicare plan:

  • Be suspicious of anyone who contacts you about Medicare plans, unless you gave them permission.
  • There are no Medicare "early bird discounts" or "limited time offers."
  • Don't let anyone rush you to enroll by claiming you need to "act now for the best deal."
  • Be skeptical of free gifts, free medical services, discount packages or any offer that sounds too good to be true – especially if you need to hand over your Medicare number to get these items or deals. Decline politely, but firmly.
  • By law, any promotional items you're offered to enroll in a plan can't be worth more than $15, and these items can't be given on the condition that you enroll in a plan.

Call the Senior LinkAge Line® to report fraud at 1-800-333-2433. The Senior LinkAge Line® is a service of the Minnesota Board on Aging, in partnership with the Area Agencies on Aging. It is also Minnesota's Senior Medicare Patrol, a designation by the Administration for Community Living.

Learn more about protecting yourself from health care fraud by visiting