Post written by Renee Halseth, Fraud/Security Officer, Deposit Compliance Officer
New Medicare cards have officially started rolling out as of April 2018.
Although it will take a year to get all the cards rolled out to every state, many are in agreement that taking the Social Security number off the cards and providing members with new Medicare identity numbers will help safeguard individuals from identity theft.
The only issue with this critical step in protecting identities is that scammers are now figuring out ways to take advantage of this new card switch.
Con artists are taking to the phones and calling individuals who currently have Medicare and individuals that recently have qualified for Medicare this year. These phonies impersonate representatives from Medicare, Social Security and even supplemental insurance agencies.
The callers can be extremely aggressive, calling again and again, at all times of the day, in an effort to wear their victims down. Scammers will do anything to gain their targets trust and sound legitimate. Sometimes the caller will have some personal information about the individual, such as his or her name, address, or even part of their Social Security number in an attempt to sound genuine.
There are numerous methods that these fraudsters will try in order to con you into giving them money or personal information. Some callers claim there is a processing fee you need to pay before you can receive your new card in the mail.
Other imposters will falsely claim they need to “verify” a Social Security number or other personal information before the new card can be issued to you. In some cases, victims have been told they are due a refund on transactions with their old card and need to provide bank account information to process this alleged reimbursement.
Additionally, in another fraudulent ploy, a caller might try to push their victim into purchasing Medicare’s prescription drug coverage (known as Plan D). They will often claim this must be bought or the Medicare customer could lose coverage altogether. Do not fall for this intimidation tactic. Plan D is voluntary and has no impact on your health plan.
Knowledge is prevention with these scams. Learning as much as you can about the new card rollout can help save you or a loved ones finances and identity. Here is what you need to know about the new card rollout:
- Medicare will mail the card, at NO cost, to the address on file with the Social Security Administration. (update your address by visiting your online Social Security account at SSA.gov/myaccount, or call 800-772-1213)
- Medicare coverage and benefits will stay the same.
- If a relative gets their new card before you, don’t worry. The cards are being dispersed at different times throughout the states from April 2018 to April 2019. So it’s very likely that your card could arrive at a different time from someone else’s. (Montana’s expected rollout is after June 2018).
- When you get a new card be sure to shred or cut up your old card. Making sure that your Social Security number is indecipherable.
- If you have a separate Medicare Advantage card, keep it because you will still need it.
As these new Medicare cards start being mailed out, be watchful of these possible Medicare scams. To keep your family members, and you safe here are a few tips to remember:
- Do not pay for your new card. The new cards are completely free. If you receive a call saying you need to pay for your card, it is a scam.
- Don’t give personal information to get your card. If anyone claiming to be from Medicare or any other agency is asking for your Social Security number, personal details, or banking information, that is a scam. Simply hang up. Medicare will never ask you to give personal information to get your new number and card.
- Guard your card. When you do receive your card, safeguard it like any other important document. While removing the Social Security number will cut down on many types of identity theft, you will still want to protect your new card as thieves could still use it to get medical services.
In summary be on the alert for these new Medicare scams, and warn the people in your life that could be affected. Always be cautious and suspicious of phone calls asking or demanding money or your personal information. As the saying goes it’s better to be safe than sorry, especially when you could end up being conned out of your money or identity.