SAN ANTONIO - New Medicare cards are in the mail, or will be, creating a new opportunity for scammers looking to prey on senior citizens.
The current cards include the beneficiary’s Social Security number, a gold mine for identity thieves. To reduce the opportunity for fraud, the Social Security Administration, as mandated by law, is rolling out new cards that no longer use the Social Security number, but instead use an 11-digit identifier.
Ironically, the change has led to reports of a new scam surfacing.
“Any time there is some type of rollout like this where there may be some confusion, scammers are there to take advantage of it,” said Miguel Segura, with the San Antonio Better Business Bureau.
The BBB’s Scamtracker has recorded reports of fraudsters targeting some of the nearly 60 million senior citizens who will be receiving the new cards. That’s prompting consumer advocates to warn families to be aware of phone calls supposedly coming from Medicare officials.
“We are concerned people will start getting phone calls from people saying their Medicare card has been lost, somebody else tried to use it. So in order to process the card, you need to provide your Social Security number, your date of birth, or you may get a phone call that you need to pay to receive that card,” Segura said.
Medicare does not initiate calls asking for personal information or for payment. Anyone getting such a call should hang up and can report it to 1-800-MEDICARE.
The cards are being mailed out on a staggered basis until April 2019. When the new card is received, the old one should be destroyed, according to the government.
The rollout process is automatic. The cards do not have to be activated. No phone calls nor payments are needed.
Cards will be mailed to the address on file with the the Social Security Administration. Addresses can be verified or updated by contacting the SSA.
Fast Facts and Tips:
New Medicare cards do not include Social Security number
Cards mailed out by April 2019
Social Security and Medicare do not call about information or payment
Process is automatic; recipients do nothing
Beware of calls about the cards
Report scam calls to 1-800-MEDICARE
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