Start watching the mail for your new Medicare card. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services will start mailing the cards this month and plans to replace all existing Medicare cards over the next year — by April of 2019.
The goal is to prevent fraud and combat identity theft by removing the Social Security numbers from cards and using a unique, randomly – assigned number instead. The new cards, which contain a combination of numbers and uppercase letters, will be automatically mailed to all Medicare beneficiaries. There is nothing people need to do to obtain the cards.
But in the meantime, beware of scams and identity theft attempts. Scammers are taking advantage of the confusion created by the transition, and reports of Medicare card scams are rampant. The two most important things to know: Medicare will not call or contact you for “information about your account,” and the new card will not cost you anything.
Hang up the phone or shut the door if you encounter any of the following:
- Someone calls stating they are with Medicare and they need to update your information. Medicare never calls or visits anyone and already has the information it needs to send your cards.
- Someone calls or visits asking for your address or Social Security Number and reads incorrect information that they claim to have for you. This is the typical way in which scammers attempt to bait you into supplying information they want, which includes your address, email address, or Social Security number. Don’t take the bait. Never give out your Social Security number to anyone who calls you on the phone or knocks on your door.
- Someone tries to tell you there’s a fee for the new Medicare card. There is no fee for the card. Never give out your credit card or bank account number to anyone.
If you get a call from someone that you don’t know who is asking for personal information, don’t be polite — hang up or shut the door. If you do get such a call about new Medicare cards, you may help other retirees avoid scams by calling your local newspaper and TV stations to alert the local news media to the attempt. Tell journalists what almost happened to you and ask for their help to get the word out to other retirees.