Scammers are trying to take advantage of older Americans and retirees once again. This time, they are using trickery surrounding the issuance of the new Medicare ID cards set to be mailed out next year and in all recipients’ hands by April 2019. Those always-on-top-of-the-news fraudsters are well aware of this change and are using it in a new con that coincides with Medicare open enrollment that runs through December 17.
Older people are victims of financial scams at the rate of 12% of them. In 2016, according to CNBC, the median loss for those 65 and older was $390. There are a few scams making the rounds. In each case, someone calls pretending to represent Medicare.
-Caller says he needs to confirm personal information or collect a fee for the new card.
-He requests the social security number or payment card information.
-Caller says she needs to send a healthcare product, such as a knee brace, diabetes supplies, or other medical equipment or supplies.
-She requests the Medicare number in order to send the equipment.
-Caller claims customer is owed a refund.
-He needs the bank account number and social security card for a direct deposit.
There are likely others circulating, but these seem to be most common at the moment surrounding the new cards. However, there are some tips to remember:
-The new cards without social security numbers will be automatically mailed and are FREE. Don’t be duped into paying a fee.
-Don’t give money to anyone who calls unsolicited claiming to represent Medicare. They won’t make initial contact this way. They will use the U.S. Mail.
-Generally, it’s illegal for anyone to contact you in an unsolicited manner about your Medicare coverage. Should this happen, hang up or delete the email message.
-Report scams to the FTC.
In addition, if anyone says they are an “official Medicare agent” or sales representative, don’t buy it. There is no such title and Medicare doesn’t use sales people. Prescription coverage is also completely voluntary. If someone claims it isn’t, her or she is a scammer.
Until the new cards are issued, keep the current one secured at all times. Many of them do have social security numbers on them, which is the real prize for thieves wanting to make money off of it on the dark web.
Expect other scams to crop up as the new cards are about to get sent out. Always be wary of unsolicited calls, emails, and even door-to-door visits purporting to be from someone at Medicare.
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