Special to 1812Blockhouse, with additions by 1812Blockhouse

The Ohio Senior Medicare Patrol, part of the non-profit Pro Seniors organization, has announced its partnership with multiple Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) across Ohio to drive awareness of medical identity theft and stop scammers in their tracks.

Those agencies include the Ohio District 5 Area Agency on Aging here in Richland County.

Medical identity theft occurs when someone uses personal information – such as your name and Medicare number – to bill for services or supplies you did not approve. Fraudsters may send you unwanted COVID test kits, call you to claim you qualify for free genetic testing, tell you Medicare is issuing new cards, or they may bill Medicare for a knee brace in your name, unbeknownst to you.

“Medical identity theft is a billion dollar industry, and scammers are good at their jobs,” said Lisa Dalga, Project Manager for the Ohio Senior Medicare Patrol. “People are often embarrassed after succumbing to a scam and reluctant to report it or get help.  Our new partnership with district AAAs, a trusted source to older adults, will enable us to educate people across Ohio on how to identify medical identity theft scams, how to keep themselves protected, and how to report when they suspect fraudulent activity on their Medicare account.  Fraud happens to everyone and it is nothing to be ashamed about.”

“The safety and well-being of seniors in our network is our number one priority. We are proud to partner with the Ohio Senior Medicare Patrol and believe we share like-minded goals of empowering older adults,” said Jennifer Lewis, Director of Communications, Area Agency on Aging District 7. “We are eager to start spreading the word to help people detect, prevent and report Medicare fraud.”

Representatives from the AAAs across many Ohio counties will begin teaching people about this type of fraud in late July.  Information to be shared includes:

  • Clues that your medical identity may be compromised, including receiving boxes of braces, testing kits, or other medical supplies in the mail that you did not request;
  • Being contacted by a debt collection company for a provider bill that you do not owe;
  • Giving out your Medicare number after receiving calls about “free” services or products.

Ways to prevent medical identity theft:

  • Never give out your Medicare number to anyone other than your doctor, health care provider, or other trusted representative. 
  • Understand that Medicare and Social Security already have your Medicare and Social Security numbers and will not initiate a call to you.
  • Be cautious of anyone who comes to your door offering “free” testing, treatments, or supplies for genetic diseases, cancer, or the coronavirus.
  • Be cautious when purchasing medical supplies from unverified or unknown sources, including online advertisements and email/phone solicitations. 

What to do if you suspect fraud:

  • Check your medical summary notices for visits, equipment or services you did not approve.
  • If you gave out your Medicare number, it is now considered ‘compromised.’  Call the Ohio Senior Medicare Patrol at 800-488-6070 and they can help you identify suspected fraud on your account, as well as help you request a new Medicare number.

Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay

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