The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

Community

January 8, 2014

Families in DHHS mis-mailing can protect themselves

TARBORO — Families whose Medicaid cards were sent to the wrong addresses can take steps to guard against possible identity theft and health care fraud, Attorney General Roy Cooper said Tuesday.

Last Friday, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced it had mailed 48,752 Medicaid cards for North Carolina children to the wrong addresses. According to DHHS, the cards include children's names, Medicaid identification numbers, dates of birth and the names and addresses of their primary care physicians, but do not contain Social Security numbers.

The information disclosed is a violation of federal laws.

According to DHHS, it has begun a careful review of the incident to determine how it occurred and to ensure personal information is protected. DHHS officials say they know exactly which Medicaid cards were sent to which addresses, and is rapidly working to issue correct Medicaid cards.

This incident does not affect Medicaid coverage, and benefits are not affected. Medicaid recipients who have received incorrect Medicaid cards will be sent a correct Medicaid card with specific instructions on what to do with the incorrect Medicaid card. In the meantime, children needing services without a correct Medicaid ID card can use their NC Health Choice ID number or card, which is still valid. Providers are also able to verify eligibility in order to deliver services.

 “Parents of children whose health insurance cards wound up in the wrong hands are understandably concerned,” Cooper said.  “Taking a few simple steps can give families peace of mind that their child’s information isn’t being misused.”

DHHS advises the parent or responsible adult who received an incorrect card to immediately shred it or cut it into small pieces. Alternatively, the cards can be turned in to county social services offices.

DHHS is also sending letters to people affected by the privacy breach and will send recipients statements of Medicaid services rendered using their Medicaid ID numbers.

The agency advises people worried about credit fraud to contact credit bureaus to ask that fraud alerts be placed on their accounts.

Cooper’s office suggests taking the following steps if you are a parent or legal guardian and your child’s Medicaid card went to the wrong address:

• Contact the three credit bureaus to see if your child has a credit report. In most cases, children under 18 will not have a credit report.

Equifax

P.O. Box 740241

Atlanta, Ga. 30374-0241

1-800-525-6285

Experian

P.O. Box 9532

Allen, Texas 75013

1-888-397-3742

TransUnion

    P.O. Box 6790

    Fullerton, Calif. 92834-6970

    1-800-680-7289

        

        • If your child has a credit report, request a fraud alert from the credit bureau.

        • Freeze your child’s credit report, if your child has one. A security freeze prevents anyone with your child’s personal information from taking out a loan or credit card in his or her name.  Security freezes are free online for North Carolina consumers.  Checkfor step-by-step instructions.

        • Monitor statements of medical services you receive to make sure someone hasn’t used your child’s Medicaid number to get medical treatment.

 

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