Millions of people 65 or older will soon get new Medicare cards to prevent identity theft, but fraudsters are exploiting the nationwide rollout to try and fleece seniors into revealing personal information, according to reports.
Social Security numbers aren’t being printed on the new cards. Instead, they will contain 11-digit personal identifiers with numbers and letters. As of this month, the new cards are being sent to the nation’s 58 million Medicare recipients, Fox News reports.
But now con artists are cold calling seniors around the U.S. about the new cards, the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud reported. They’re trying to steal seniors’ Social Security numbers, bank account numbers and credit card information.
“They’re sneaky. Very sneaky,” Virginia Baize, of Muncie, Ind., told WTHR-TV last week.
As she and her husband wait to get their new Medicare cards they have noticed an increase in phone solicitations from scammers posing as telemarketers, the station reported.
They told the station about one guy who called recently, saying he was from a Medicare senior group.
“He kept saying to me, kept repeating, ‘I need your red and blue card number. I need that number off your red and blue card,'” Virginia said. “He said the change is coming in spring for new cards and you need to use this now.”
The caller never got their personal information. He got angry and threatened to revoke their health insurance, the station reported.
“I told him ‘You can’t do that,’ and I hung up on him. I really think people are trying to take advantage of us,” Virginia said.
Your Medicare card
New Medicare cards are coming
Medicare is mailing new Medicare cards to all people with Medicare starting in April 2018.
10 things to know about your new Medicare card
- Your new card will automatically come to you. You don’t need to do anything as long as your address is up to date. If you need to update your address, visit your mySocial Security account.
- Your new card will have a new Medicare Number that’s unique to you, instead of your Social Security Number. This will help to protect your identity.
- Your Medicare coverage and benefits will stay the same.
- Mailing takes time. Your card may arrive at a different time than your friend’s or neighbor’s.
- Your new card is paper, which is easier for many providers to use and copy.
- Once you get your new Medicare card, destroy your old Medicare card and start using your new card right away.
- If you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO), your Medicare Advantage Plan ID card is your main card for Medicare—you should still keep and use it whenever you need care. However, you also may be asked to show your new Medicare card, so you should carry this card too.
- Doctors, other health care providers and facilities know it’s coming and will ask for your new Medicare card when you need care, so carry it with you.
- Only give your new Medicare Number to doctors, pharmacists, other health care providers, your insurers, or people you trust to work with Medicare on your behalf.
- If you forget your new card, you, your doctor or other health care provider may be able to look up your Medicare Number online.
Watch out for scams
Medicare will never call you uninvited and ask you to give us personal or private information to get your new Medicare Number and card. Scam artists may try to get personal information (like your current Medicare Number) by contacting you about your new card. If someone asks you for your information, for money, or threatens to cancel your health benefits if you don’t share your personal information, hang up and call us at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). Learn more about the limited situations in which Medicare can call you.
How can I replace my Medicare card?
If your Medicare card is lost, stolen or damaged, you can ask Social Security for a new one.
- Your Medicare card will arrive in the mail in about 30 days.
- Social Security will mail your card to the address they have on file for you.
- If you need proof that you have Medicare sooner than 30 days, you can request a letter from Social Security. The letter will arrive in the mail in about 10 days.
- If you need proof immediately for your doctor or for a prescription, visit your local Social Security office.
How do I change my name or address?
Medicare uses the name and address you have on file with Social Security. To change your name and/or address, visit your online my Social Security account.
Indiana’s Senior Medicare Patrol program director Nancy Moore told WTHR that the phishing scams targeting seniors are now on the rise because scammers sense they are running out of time. They are desperately trying to convince seniors to divulge their Social Security numbers before those numbers disappear completely from Medicare cards.
“It’s happening nationwide and it’s happening in Indiana,” Moore told the station. “People need to know Medicare won’t call you. They only operate via U.S. mail, but the scammers are very persistent. If they call you, just hang up. Don’t give out any personal information. They’re just really after your Social Security number.”
So be extremely careful and be sure to read all the precautions that we have provided.
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