Have you been contacted by an individual who claims there is a serious charge on Social Security number? Has someone emailed you requesting you confirm your Medicare number to activate your coverage?
Those are scams, scammers look to trick or blackmail individuals into sharing their personal information or money.
Unfortunately, these scams are very common and the number of calls people receive increases constantly.
Scammers are constantly trying to imitate government organizations and respected businesses to fool customers and individuals.
Once a scammer has your personal information it can be challenging to protect yourself from further damage.
This article will cover how scammers use your information, how to recognize scams, and how to report scams to the correct hot line.
Read on to learn more.
Quick Navigation Article Links
- How To Protect My Personal Information And SSN
- What Is Social Security Fraud
- How Do Medicare Number or Card Scams Work
- How Can I Proactively Protect My Medicare Information
- If Someone Has Stolen My Card How Can They Use It
- How Can I Recognise A Scam
How To Protect My Personal Information, SSN, And Cards
Keep your Social Security Your back pocket or at the bottom of your purse may not be the best location. Make sure all important cards are protected from water damage and not left in direct sun for long periods of time.
Do not give out your Medicare card, Social Security card, or your SSN to just anyone. If you are contacted on the phone and asked to give your SSN or Medicare number please be cautious.
Avoid Phone Scammers
Please be careful when taking ANY phone call about your Social Security benefits!!! Unfortunately, there are quite a few scams related to Social Security numbers. A Social Security officer will NEVER threaten you or say you will go to jail if you do not give them your personal information.
If you receive a phone call where someone says “there is a charge against you, you will go to jail if you do not pay money or give us your information” that is a scam! Hang up!
Protect Yourself When You Must Carry Physical Documents
Make sure to keep any and all health care plans, coverage proof, and plan cards in a safe place. Secure the documents so water will not damage them and keep them in a safe place you will not forget.
If you must carry your physical card make sure you keep it secure.
Understand When And Where You Will Need To Use Your Card
There are some situations where you may need your Social Security or Medicare Card. Know when and where you will need your card so you are only carrying it when you must.
Only carry your Social Security card if it is specifically requested by the SSA or an employer. It is highly unlikely you will ever be required to carry your physical Social Security card so it is not recommended by the SSA that you carry the card on a daily basis.
If you have Original Medicare then you need to carry your card whenever you are away from home. When you go to the hospital, doctor’s clinic, or a health care provider you will need to show your Medicare card. If you have a Medicare plan that covers prescriptions or supplementary services carry that plan information or card with you as well.
If you have a Medicare Advantage plan or any other kind of Medicare plan you will need to use your specific plans card to get services, you will not need to show your Medicare card.
Store Copies Of Your Documents And Cards
Some phones have a feature where you can put a password on a note you make. This may be a feature you could use to note down important numbers and passwords in a safe place.
You could also photocopy all of your important documents and cards so if they are lost you have a copy and can prove you are the owner of the documents. You should also write down all your important identification numbers for your reference.
What Is Social Security Fraud
The SSA has a zero-tolerance policy again Social Security fraud. Any reports will be thoroughly investigated.
Social Securities’ message to offenders and those who attempt to commit Social Security fraud is straightforward: “We will find you; we will prosecute you; we will seek the maximum punishment under the law; and we will fight to restore the money you’ve stolen from the American people. “
Social Security fraud is also falsifying records, neglecting to notify the SSA of changes in your condition, reporting false income, or not reporting a recipient’s death to the SSA.
If you have been charged with Social Security Fraud you may not qualify for other benefits.
What Are The Consequences Of Social Security Fraud
Someone who commits Social Security fraud will face imprisonment and a fine. The severity of the punishment depends on the individual’s position. For example, a doctor will have more severe punishment than another individual who is not in a position of trust.
Falsifying information on your application carries a fine and up to five years in prison. The court that handles the case may add any other penalty that applies in the individual’s case.
Social Security Disability Fraud committed by an individual applying for benefits carries consequences of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.00.
Social Security Disability Fraud committed by a professional, doctor, or another person in a position of trust carries up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $7,500.00 per false case or statement they submitted. They could also be sued.
The SSA takes any fraud, identity theft, or misuse of your benefits seriously. Read more about the legal action the SSA can take if someone misuses their benefits or commits fraud by clicking this link.
How Do Scams Work
Ultimately the scammer’s goal is to get your Medicare number, SSN, bank information, or credit card number.
Do not provide those details to ANYONE who randomly contacts you over the phone. Once the scammers have your personal information they may use it to commit identity theft, fraud, or to steal money.
Once the scammer has your personal information they will immediately use it to clean out your bank account, put charges under your name, or sell your information to someone else.
Learn to recognize scams, be vigilant when someone contacts you and claims to be a government employee, bank employee, IT assistant, or other professional.
How Can I Proactively Protect Myself
You need to treat our Medicare number and SSN as if they were credit card numbers. When you get a new Medicare card or Social Security card destroy the only one.
You can shred it, chop it up, or try to dispose of it in some other method. Make sure your information cannot be read on the card.
Do not return your Medicare card or your old Social Security card if you receive a call from a random person who claims you need to return the old card.
Do not give out your card or your Medicare number or SSN to just anyone. Do not readily share your information over the phone unless YOU were the person to contact the SSA. It is safer when you directly contact someone because you initiated the conversation.
If you receive threats from someone saying you MUST share your Medicare number hang up immediately and call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or TTY 1-877-486-2048.
If you receive threats from someone regarding your SSN contact the SSA at 1-800-269-0271. That number is a fraud hotline.
You can also report suspicious calls to https://oig.ssa.gov.
There are many other scams, stay cautious and do not volunteer personal information if you are at all suspicious.
If Someone Has Stolen My Card How Can They Use It
If your card has been stolen the thief may try to use your card or information in one or more of the following ways.
To commit identity theft. Once a scammer has your personal information they may try to impersonate you and receive money or benefits if possible. They could also threaten you by exposing your personal information to the public.
If you have given out your personal information and are being threatened contact Medicare ASAP and let them know what is happening. Medicare can help you secure your personal information and stop the threats.
Card Activation Fee Or Issue With Card
The scammer may try to convince you to pay a fee to activate your card or “fix’ an error they claim exists. You do not need to pay anything to activate your Medicare card. And if there is an “error” with your card then contact Medicare directly, do not engage in a random call from an unconfirmed person.
Questionable Charges On Your Medicare Account
The scammer may put questionable charges on your Medicare account. This is a way they use to steal money.
Check your Medicare Summary Notice or MSN for short to verify there are no fake charges on your account. If your card number is compromised contact Medicare immediately to inform them to refuse the false charges. You can also report them to a fraud hotline at 800-HHS-TIPS (800-447-8477)
Basically, a scammer’s main goal is to get money from you or someone else. They will use your personal information as a tool to do this. Protect yourself by being cautious and familiarizing yourself with common scams.
How Can I Recognise A Scam
All scams usually have a few things in common. If you receive a call or email that includes any or all of the following procedures with caution and DO NOT give any personal information.
- The person claims to be a government agent who needs to confirm or collect your personal information.
- The person claims there is a charge against you and legal action and/or fine could be imposed.
- The person claims you qualify to receive free goods, services, or benefits and request you confirm your SSN or Medicare number to complete the transaction.
- There are grammatical errors in the email and/or the person does not speak fluent English.
- During the call, the person becomes more frustrated and begins threatening you with legal consequences.
- The person asks you to download a program on your computer to share your screen or give them access to your device.
- The person wants you to purchase gift cards or deposit cash into a bitcoin ATM.
If the SSA plans to contact you by phone you will usually be notified. That way you can expect to receive a call.