Watch Out For Scams!
Medicare recently announced that a big change is coming to Medicare cards. To prevent identity theft and to help protect the program from fraud, Medicare will be dropping Social Security numbers from Medicare cards and issuing new cards starting next year.
The new cards will have unique, randomly-assigned numbers called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI). The numbers will consist of eleven characters and will be made up of only numbers and uppercase letters with no special characters. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently announced that it will begin mailing the new cards in April of 2018, with all Medicare cards replaced by April 2019.
Fraud Alert: Meanwhile, Medicare recipients have been targeted by all sorts of scams related to this change via mail, phone, door-to-door callers, and the Internet. Here’s how one recent scam works: Con artists will tell you falsely that you will need to pay a fee for your new Medicare card or lose your Medicare benefits. The scammer asks for your checking account or credit card number to cover the so-called “fee” required by Congress. They will also ask you to verify your current number and thus get your Social Security number.
The truth is that the cards are free, and you don’t have to do anything but wait until your new card is sent to you. Here are some other important things you need to know:
- Medicare will never call you to verify medical information, personal information or charge you a fee for the card. Medicare will not threaten to cancel or change your benefits.
- Be particularly cautious of someone who comes to your door, calls, or otherwise claims to represent Medicare. Hang up the phone and send door-knockers on their way.
- Your benefits will not change. If a caller threatens that you will lose your Medicare coverage unless you verify your identity by providing a bank account, or credit card information, or asks for your Social Security number, don’t believe it. You will be able to use your new Medicare MBI card as soon as you receive it.
To learn more about protecting yourself, contact the Senior Medicare Patrol. Find the phone number for your state here: www.smpresource.org.
Source: “New Medicare Cards Offer Greater Protection To More Than 57.7 Million Americans,” Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, May 30, 2017. “New Medicare Card Scam,” David P. Willis, app.com, May 26, 2017.