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Consumer alert: Medicare card changes could trigger scams

Contact: Jennifer Bowen

(334) 269-3550

6/8/2018

In April, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) began mailing new, more secure cards to Medicare beneficiaries. Beneficiaries do not need to do anything to get new cards, and they are being mailed at no cost to the recipient. If you receive Medicare, your benefits will not change with your new card.

The new cards are much more secure to use. The old cards displayed the beneficiary's Social Security number (SSN). Identity thieves frequently use SSNs to steal identities, open credit cards or take out loans in someone else's name. While the new cards do not have SSNs, scammers may use this transition period to try to steal your personal information.

Medicare beneficiaries should know the following:

  • You do not need to pay for a new Medicare card. If anyone claiming to represent Medicare, the CMS or the government tries to charge you for your card, it is a scam. Never give your SSN, bank or credit card information, or send cash to anyone who says it is required to get your Medicare card.
  • Do not give your Medicare number to people you do not know or have not contacted first. Some scammers call pretending to be from the CMS or Medicare. However, these organizations will never require your personal information in exchange for your Medicare card. Only share your Medicare number with doctors or trusted people who work with Medicare, such as your State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) office. Do not let strangers help complete applications or forms that include personal information.
  • Do not give financial information to people you do not know. If someone asks for bank or credit card information, promising to deposit a rebate or bonus into your account because of your new Medicare card, that is a scam.
  • Do not believe anyone who tells you that your Medicare will be canceled unless you give them your Medicare number. If someone asks for your Medicare number and threatens to cancel your health benefits if you do not provide it, hang up! If you receive a suspicious call, contact 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227; TTY: 1-877-486-2048).
  • Destroy your old Medicare card. Once you receive your new Medicare card, destroy your old Medicare card by shredding or cutting it into pieces, and start using the new one right away.

You can find more information about the new Medicare cards at Medicare.gov.

For Medicare questions, including information about the new card, call CMS at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227; TTY: 1-877-486-2048); the Alabama Department of Insurance at 334-269-3550; or your SHIP office.