Protect Your Information During the 2016 Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)
With open enrollment just around the corner (October 15-December 7) thousands of seniors around the country will be signing up for Medicare and Medicare Supplement Insurance plans. Knowing this, identity thieves, hackers and impostors step up their efforts during this time of year as well, taking advantage of seniors who may provide personal information more freely as they shop for insurance plans.
During this time, seniors should be weary of certain people and should take steps to protect their information. Below are some ways to guard against theft and hacking.
Don’t Give Out Your Medicare Number
A common goal for predators is to get a hold of a Medicare Number. Similar to a credit card number, your Medicare Number will allow others to charge services to your account.
Medicare will never contact you to ask for your number. If you receive a phone call, an email or are approached by someone who asks for it, do not provide them with any information.
Be Cautious of “Free Gifts”
When things appear to be too good to be true, they usually are. In order to get the vital personal information they are after, hackers and impostors will usually create some kind of incentive. One of the more common schemes is to offer a free gift or a special offer. In order to receive it, however, you will need to provide some personal information, including a Medicare Number or social security number.
Also be suspicious of anyone looking to rush you into buying Medicare or Medicare Supplement Insurance quickly to take advantage of some special offer. There are no special offers or discounts for signing up for Original Medicare early.
Ask Questions to Educate Yourself
Staying informed about your policy and other health insurance policies that are offered is the best way to detect a fraudulent offer. Hackers and identity thieves rely on ignorance and naivety. Understanding how the system and the policies work will allow you to stay one step ahead of the scams.
When you don’t understand something or have questions about your policy, reach out to an informed representative to get the information you need. While Medicare and Medicare Supplement Insurance policies can be difficult to fully grasp, it is important to keep asking questions so you know what to expect from your plan.
Keep Records of All Appointment and Payments
If you are not diligent about checking your statements and keeping a record of everything involving your Medicare policies, you could be allowing a third party to use your account. For those who visit doctors pretty regularly, it can be difficult to track all the details regarding appointments, procedures, medications and payments. This leaves you susceptible to identity theft, which is why creating a calendar could be a useful tool for staying on top of everything.