By: Deanna Turner
River Valley District Extension Agent
BE ON THE ALERT
Some Medicare beneficiaries recently received a letter from their current Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Company or one they were members in the past. The company reported a security incident where a disk drive can not be located that contained their name, address and health information. The letter states that neither Social Security numbers or financial information was included in the compromised disks.
The Part D company has arranged for the Medicare beneficiary to receive two years of free identity protection. Should the beneficiary take advantage of this opportunity?
I have received inquiries on this security incident and faxed a copy of the letter to Darrell Elliott who is the Kansas Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) Coordinator. The Kansas Department on Aging’s SMP is a statewide project designed to reduce Medicare and Medicaid fraud, waste and abuse. Through education, outreach, one-on-one assistance and problem resolution, Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries are educated and counseled on how to protect, identify and report scams and healthcare fraud and abuse.
Darrell had received other inquiries about this. His investigation found that the identity protection company was legitimate but had marketing and collection problems. They actually bought the mailing list to send out this letter and misrepresented themselves. Darrell reported another concern with Medicare beneficiaries taking advantage of the free identify theft protection is that after two years they may forget to stop the service. Some companies charge high monthly fees which a beneficiary on a limited income may not be able to afford.
Darrell said that identity protection is something that a person can do themselves without hiring a company to do it. He suggests:
1. Take advantage of getting your free credit report annually from each of the three bureaus. Even if you do not have it credit, it will show up if someone else is using your name.
Call 1-877-322-8228 or www.annualcreditreport.com You may want to get a report from each of the bureaus today or get one today and space out getting the other two reports, one every 4 months. You will only get the report and not a credit score. There is an additional fee to get a credit score. Contact the bureau if there are discrepancies in the information.
2. Read your bank statement and other correspondence from your financial institution. Check that all the automatic bill payments were your bills and the checks ones that you wrote. Contact your financial institution if there are errors.
Call the Kansas SMP at 1-800-860-5260 or 1-785-296-0377 to report Medicare/Medicaid Fraud or scams. Look on the Kansas Department on Aging web site and on the left hand column click on the Senior Support Resources and then Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP). The Kansas Department on Aging web site is: http://www.agingkansas.org/
Using Account Numbers on Internet- Your computer is a treasure trove for an identity thief. You should update your virus software regularly and not open unfamiliar e-mail attachments, since viruses can create backdoors for hackers to steal information from your PC.
Be sure when giving an account number online, the URL on the address bar at the top of your screen should read “https” or “shttp,” not “http,” and an icon at the bottom of your screen may change from a broken key to complete one, or an open lock to one that is closed. This means the information is being transmitted securely.
Protect your personal information!
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