Scammers targeting new Medicare cards

CMS begins issuing a new Medicare Card this month, without Social Security numbers. The cards, mandated by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015, will be mailed out to every Medicare beneficiary in the United States through April 2019, when the process is expected to be complete. Iowa's are scheduled to be mailed sometime after June 2018.

Deletion of the Social Security numbers is being done to prevent wasteful fraud and abuse, often caused by criminals preying on senior citizens. The new Medicare cards will use a unique, randomly-assigned number called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI), to replace the Social Security-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) currently used on the Medicare card.

The image at right is an example of what the new Medicare Cards will look like.

Scammers who prey on the elderly are already targeting new Medicare card recipients. A March 2018 bulletin of the Federal Trade Commission warns beneficiaries to be aware of scammers contacting the elderly about the new Medicare cards and seeking critical personalized information in the process. The FTC urges anyone receiving such contacts to reject their requests for information and/or money.

According to the hoax-busting website, new Medicare Card scams have begun and the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker reports calls about alleged Medicare Card scams in February. A widely-shared Facebook post draws attention to the scam:

    Just a heads up that there is a scam going around involving the new Medicare Cards coming out in April…It is true that the new cards will be sent out from April 2018 to April 2019. Medicare has also warned on scams. They do not charge for cards or want your personal information over the phone.

    …Somebody from “MEDICARE ” will call to tell you-you are getting a new Medicare card. But until it comes you will need a temporary card. Fee for the card is between $5-50 dollars. They want personal information, bank account or credit card so they can process your temporary card.

Anyone who receives a call from someone claiming to be from Medicare or the CMS and asks them for confirmation of a Social Security Number or to pay for a new Medicare Card, should end the contact immediately and consider reporting the contact.

Remember: Medicare will not call consumers and will never ask for a beneficiary’s Social Security number or other financial details. The new Medicare Cards are free and Medicare already has all Social Security numbers.