Medicare knows the information safety of its many members is at risk. There’s been a steady increase in identity fraud for seniors, with 2.1 million reported cases in 2012 growing to 2.6 million in 2014. That’s one big reason Medicare is introducing new replacement cards for all fifty million-plus members. The newly designed (and still red, white and blue) cards will begin mailing in April 2018 and finish by April 2019. The new card takes a major step toward improving the safety of member information by removing Social Security Numbers. The new cards will automatically be sent to recipients, with absolutely no action required on the part of members.
With the good news for Medicare recipients comes the need for an info-scam safety lesson. There’s no shortage of fraudsters ready to exploit the new cards and their owners. Medicare strongly suggests all those card-carrying members and the people who know them learn how to protect one’s Medicare ID Card. Being best-informed about “information thieves” and their scams is a very effective deterrent.
New Medicare Card Safety Feature
Social Security numbers are removed and replaced with 11 randomly chosen letters and numbers called the Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MIB). Those whose cards don’t currently carry an SSN will also receive a new card with an MIB. Still, the new cards carry valuable information and should always be safely stashed away.
How to Stop Scammers
-Once you receive your new card, immediately destroy the old one. Use a crisscross shredder or scissors to cut the old card to bits. Dispose of the pieces safely and responsibly. Whenever possible, don’t toss an entire destroyed card in the same receptacle. Believe it or not, they can be reconstructed by very patient and dedicated thieves.
-Medicare has websites for questions and education informing new card recipients about scams. You can visit the Medicare website for more details. Remember, if you’re contacted by a suspected scammer, hang up and immediately call Medicare to report the incident. Get the phone number off the Medicare website.
-Beware of any contact regarding new cards. Do not provide any information to someone claiming to be from a federal agency (Medicare, Social Security, IRS, etc.) who asks for money to replace the old card; verify sensitive information; and/or threaten a loss of benefits. This is a thief. Always hang up and immediately report the attempt to Medicare.
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