Medicare Card Scams
You may have gotten a phone call recently from someone claiming to be the IRS, or you may have gotten an email asking for your banking information to avoid a threat to your computer. Unfortunately, avoiding scams has become part of our daily lives in the past decade. The Medicare insurance industry is no exception. Many criminal endeavors tend to target older citizens, who may be less familiar with the technology that these Medicare card scams utilize.
With that in mind, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sent every Medicare beneficiary a new Medicare card designed to better protect against identity theft. These new cards were sent out from April 2018 to January 2019 and had a different format. Where the previous version had shown the beneficiary’s social security number, they now feature the Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI). The MBI is an individual, random assortment of letters and numbers that is unique to each beneficiary. During the rollout of these new cards, scammers used the new protocol to their advantage and made calls impersonating Medicare employees. Then, once the new cards were all sent out, they changed tactics and called beneficiaries telling them they had to upgrade or replace their IDs. With both of these scams, and most technology based scams in general, the objective is to obtain personal information from the targets and use their identity.
Medicare Card Scams Warning Signs
There are some basic precautions to take to try to avoid Medicare scams. Here are some things to keep in mind:
You will never receive a call from Medicare employees unless they are returning a call from you or you have otherwise invited them to do so.
You will never have to pay a fee to upgrade or change your Medicare ID card.
If someone threatens to cancel Medicare coverage over the phone if you do not verify personal information, it is a scam.
A hospital bill or bill from a service you did not receive is also a sign of a scam.
How to Protect Yourself from Medicare Card Scams
If you receive a call from someone claiming to work for Medicare asking for personal information, hang up immediately.
Destroy your old Medicare card – shredding it, for example.
Only give your Medicare card to professional, trusted healthcare providers such as hospitals, doctors, pharmacies, and insurers.
Do not share your Medicare information with anyone else, or your personal information with anyone you do not know.
Remember that scammers may know some personal information about you if you are targeted. This does not mean they actually work for Medicare.
Scams may be a part of our lives, but that doesn’t mean we have to be willing victims. With these protective measures in mind, beneficiaries can be safer from scams than before. If anyone encounters a potential Medicare Card scam, they can report it to Medicare at 800-633-4227.
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