Medicare cards are undergoing a big change to make them more secure. But in the meantime, scammers are (of course) taking advantage of confusion around the launch. What’s the change?
Beginning next month, Medicare will begin mailing new cards to everyone who gets Medicare benefits. The new cards are to help protect your identity. Specifically, Medicare is removing Social Security numbers from the cards. Instead, the new cards will have a unique Medicare beneficiary number.
One technique used by scammers is a phone call from a person claiming to work with Medicare. They are allegedly calling about the new Medicare cards, which will be mailed this spring. The scammer claims that there's a problem with your card. The con artist may say your new card was lost or someone tried to use your ID number. To resolve the situation, the scammer just needs your Social Security number for verification.
In another version, the scammer claims you must pay money to receive your new Medicare card. They may ask you for payment information, so they can “complete the process”for you. They may even ask you to mail them your old card.
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How to Avoid Medicare Scams
▪ Know how the Medicare card switch works. Understand that Medicare isn't calling consumers about the card switch. Also, the new Medicare cards are being mailed, at no cost, to the address you have on file with the Social Security Administration.
▪ Never provide personal information to a stranger. Don't share personal details with anyone who calls you unsolicited. Do not confirm or give out your full name, address, Social Security number or any other personal information.
▪ Know that the cards will be mailed in waves, to various parts of the country, from April 2018 until April 2019. Our area will begin receiving cards sometime after June 2018.
▪ When you get your new card, be sure to destroy your old card. Don’t just toss it in the trash. Shred it. If you have a separate Medicare Advantage card, keep that because you’ll still need it for treatment. Otherwise, remember that when you get your new card, your Medicare coverage and benefits will stay the same.
▪ Guard your card. When you get your new card, safeguard it like you would any other health insurance or credit card. While removing the Social Security number cuts down on many types of identity theft, you’ll still want to protect your new card because identity thieves could use it to get medical services.
If you need to update your official mailing address, visit your online Social Security account (www.ssa.gov/myaccount) or call 1-800-772-1213.