Medicare Fraud Awareness

by Mary Jane Stern

A few weeks ago I was asked to process a couple of credit cards through a person’s credit card processing service and they were going to pay their friend back in cash. I was given the information and decided not to proceed because somehow it felt like I was participating in a type of credit card fraud. I didn’t know the people nor did I have any written authorization from them to process their credit cards.

Well, this got me thinking to send out a reminder to everyone about Medicare fraud and as I started to write, the U.S. Health and Human Services department put out a press release headlined: “Medicare Fraud Strike Force Charges 111 Individuals for more than $225 Million in False Billing and Expands Operations to Two Additional Cities.”

The 111 arrested were from 9 cities, and according to Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, the medical personnel arrested charged for procedures that were not performed and for unnecessary equipment. The nine cites:

  • Miami – 32 arrests
  • Detroit – 31 arrests
  • Chicago – 11 arrests
  • Brooklyn – 10 arrests
  • Houston – 9 arrests,
  • Dallas – 7 arrests,
  • Baton Rouge – 6 arrests
  • Los Angeles – 5 arrests

It is so, so important today that you protect your Medicare information. Medicare continues to work diligently in their pursuit of the criminals who steal from Medicare, and that’s stealing from you, because it’s your tax dollars. Here are some things to practice and be aware of:

Protect your Medicare number at all times, it’s your personal information. Never, ever let anyone borrow or pay to use your Medicare ID card or your identity.

Common Medicare Fraud Schemes:

  • Free Offers -  if people approach you in parking lots, shopping centers, or other public areas and offer free services, groceries, transportation, or other items in exchange for your Medicare number – Just Walk Away.
  • Health Surveys: If someone calls you claiming to be conducting a health survey and asks for Medicare number. Simply hang up the phone.
  • Looking for Payments: Telephone marketers who claim to be from Medicare or Social Security and asks for payment over the phone or Internet may be looking steal your money - Don’t give your information away and just hang up.

If you suspect Medicare fraud, contact the Department of Health & Human Services Office of Inspector General. If you think someone is misusing your personal information, contact the Federal Trade Commission.

TIP: Invest in a paper shredder and invest the time in shredding receipts from your doctor, Medicare, credit card companies, etc. Or start a shredding box. I discovered the other day Office Depot offering shredding services and it’s done while you watch.

Keep Yourself Safe!

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