Be on the lookout for new Medicare cards and related scams.

View-1782619_640The federal government is issuing new Medicare cards to all Medicare beneficiaries. To prevent fraud and fight identity theft, the new cards will no longer have the beneficiary’s social security numbers on them. Instead, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is replacing each beneficiary’s social security number with a unique identification number, called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI), which will consist of a combination of 11 randomly generated numbers and upper-case letters.  

The characters are “nonintelligent,” which means they don’t have any hidden meanings or anything special about them. The MBI is confidential like a social security number would be and should always be kept private. CMS began mailing the new cards in April of 2018 in phases based upon the state that the beneficiary lives in. They should be completely distributed by April of 2019.

The changeover is attracting many scammers who are using the introduction of the new cards as a fresh opportunity to separate Medicare beneficiaries from their money. According to Kaiser Health News, the scams to look out for include phone calls with callers claiming to be from the Medicare office looking for your direct deposit number and using the cards as an excuse, asking for your social security number to verify information, claiming Medicare recipients need to pay money to receive the card, or threatening to cancel your insurance if you don’t give out your number.

It is imperative to understand that there is no cost for the new cards, and CMS will never call, email, or visit you unless you ask them to, nor will they ask you for money or for your Medicare number. If you receive any of these calls, hang up immediately – don’t give out any personal information. Then call 1-800-MEDICARE to report the activity, or contact your local Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) at 877-808-2468, or visit www.smpresource.org.

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Jeffrey Bellomo

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