By: Maureen Patterson, Media Manager at the SMP National Resource Center. Reposted from NCOA.org.
Medicare started mailing new Medicare cards to beneficiaries in April and will finish mailing them nationwide in a year. They have a new look but, most importantly, they have unique numbers that are different than the Social Security numbers previously used on the cards. Medicare created the new cards to reduce identity theft and fraud.
Ironically, fraudsters are capitalizing on the mailings to deceive beneficiaries. They may have many details about individuals, often gleaned from social media and other publicly available resources. They sound convincing.
The Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) helps beneficiaries fight back. SMP staff work in communities across the country to teach beneficiaries how to prevent, detect, and report Medicare fraud, errors, and abuse. Here are some tips to avoid the Medicare card scams that SMPs are seeing.
The new Medicare cards don’t cost anything!
Scammers try to convince beneficiaries that they need to pay to obtain either a temporary or permanent new card. Costs range from $5 to $400.
In another version of this scam, callers, pretending they are from a government agency, say they need the beneficiary’s bank account information to deposit funds into their account.
In reality, the new cards do NOT cost anything, and beneficiaries do not need to do anything to get them. Medicare will automatically mail them their new card. (Sign up to get an email from Medicare to know when to expect your card in the mail.)
You do not need to get personal.
Scammers try to convince beneficiaries to confirm or give personal information in order to get their new card.
In reality, beneficiaries do NOT need to give out any personal information in order to get their new cards. The cards are mailed to the address Social Security has on file. Beneficiaries can update their address by going online, calling 1-800-772-1213, or visiting their local Social Security office.
Your Medicare insurance will not be canceled.
In this scam, callers claim they need a beneficiary’s old Medicare card number to prevent their insurance from being interrupted while new cards are being mailed out.
In reality, there will be no interruption in service. In fact, both the old and new Medicare numbers may be used through December 2019.
For more information about Medicare card scams and other scams, contact your Senior Medicare Patrol. Find your local office by calling 1-877-808-2468 or go to www.smpresource.org.