Fraud Alert: Scammers calling about new Medicare cards
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will start mailing out new and improved Medicare cards in May. With these new cards, the Medicare Claim Number is no longer based on the beneficiary's Social Security number. It will be a randomly-generated series of 11 letters and numbers.
The goal is to make seniors less vulnerable to identity theft. If a crook steals this new Medicare number, he can’t use it to access your bank account or steal your tax refund or Social Security benefits.
CMS had planned to start sending out the new cards this month, but announced the delay to improve fraud protection. The process was scheduled to be completed by April 2019. Right now, beneficiaries in Washington are scheduled to get the cards starting after June. New enrollees will receive the redesigned cards.
Unfortunately, the switch to the new cards has created a golden opportunity for scammers. John Breyault, who runs the National Consumers League's Fraud.org website, says fraudsters are already working the phones.
"Scammers are calling seniors trying to get payment or personal information, saying they’re necessary in order for you to get your new Medicare card. Watch out, it's a scam,” Breyault said. "Your new card will arrive in the mail. There is no temporary card.”
By the way, you can keep using your current card until the end of next year, but it would be wise to destroy the old one once you get the new one.