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TN Consumer Advocates: Guard Your Medicare Number

Protect your Medicare number as you would your credit card number to prevent people from securing health care or medicine under your name. That's the advice from consumer advocates. (DarrenHester/morguefile.com)
Protect your Medicare number as you would your credit card number to prevent people from securing health care or medicine under your name. That's the advice from consumer advocates. (DarrenHester/morguefile.com)
October 24, 2016

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Treat your Medicare number just like your Social Security number. That's the message from consumer advocates who warn that letting your number get in the wrong hands could open you up to risk of fraud.

In the wrong hands, your card could be used by scammers to claim health benefits or access personal information. It's important to exercise caution, said Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance spokeswoman Claire Marsalis.

"Protect your Medicare number like you would your credit card number, not giving it out to people, keeping it protected,” Marsalis said. "Be wary of people who knock on your door or call you uninvited and try to sell you medical supplies or plans."

Until recently, Social Security numbers were displayed on Medicare cards, but new cards without that information will be distributed over the next four years.

Experts warn never to share your Medicare number with anyone who contacts you by phone or email. Medicare will never contact you for your personal information. And never share information with someone so that they can get benefits under your name, Marsalis warned, because it can incur serious legal consequences.

"In some cases they'll convince people to borrow their number to use for services that are not being used by the person that the Medicare number is assigned to, to pay for medical services."

Be sure to review your Medicare Summary Notice regularly to be sure you are only being charged for services you secure for yourself. Also, beware of services that advertise a "limited time offer" or free gifts if you sign up with your personal information.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - TN