Medicare is issuing new identification cards to deter rising Medicare scammers. Unfortunately, there is a ripple in the system that has prompted a new wave of scams. Protect yourself by staying informed.
The new Medicare cards are replacing the current social security number with a randomly generated 11-digit code. They are being mailed to each recipient free of charge. There is no paperwork involved; there is nothing to do; there is no cost involved. Recipients do not have to initiate this process, as the new Medicare card will automatically arrive in the mail between April 2018 through April 2019.
The new Medicare Identification Cards have not deterred scammers from fraudulently obtaining victims’ personal information; on the contrary, fraudulent activity has increased. Scammers are taking advantage of the Medicare card transition which may result in confusing Medicare recipients.
The most popular trick scammers use is placing phone calls posing as Medicare representatives to obtain the following:
- Personal identification information;
- Bank account information;
- Social Security numbers;
- Personal information by scheming that it needs to update and/or confirm your coverage;
- Persuade the purchase of additional medical coverage, such as Prescription Part D;
- Request payment for the new Medicare Identification Card; and/or
- State that the recipient is owed a refund.
KNOW THAT Medicare is not in the practice of contacting recipients either telephonically or via a personal visit to the home, unless you, the Medicare recipient, initiate the communication first. Most importantly, Medicare will never call to collect personal information. All Medicare communication is handled ONLY through the mail. Medicare does not have the financial wherewithal to place random phone calls nor visit homes.
Studies found that the number of cases relating to medical identity theft increased an overwhelming 21% (twenty-one percent) in only one year. This fraudulent activity is increased mainly at the annual open enrollment period when plans have the option for change and new retirees are added to the Medicare system.
Another factor to consider is that the scammer may even cause the Medicare recipient to lose medical coverage. Each scam attempt at medical identity theft can lead to fraudulent insurance claims, prescription approval, and/or purchase of medical equipment, impacting the average victim an approximate $13,500.00 mess to sort through. This added burden can easily be avoided by safeguarding all personal and bank information, and immediately reporting any suspicious activity to Medicare. If there is suspicion of fraudulent activity, you are urged to contact 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) and report this immediately. You may also contact Medicare via their website at MEDICARE.GOV.
Don’t fall prey and become a victim or a statistic to the schemer’s game. If you have any questions about this article or other elder law issues, contact OC Estate & Elder Law today at (954) 251-0332 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.