If you're a senior on Medicare, new cards are coming soon. New cards will be mailed out between April 2018 and April 2019, and these new cards will no longer have your Social Security number on them.
The switch to the new Medicare card is intended to make seniors less vulnerable to fraud by replacing the Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) -- which is currently based on your Social Security number -- with a new Medicare Number. Unfortunately, while the aim is to make seniors less vulnerable to having their identities stolen, scammers are using the release of the new cards to target seniors with phishing scams.
Watch out for these Medicare card scams
There are two primary scams related to the release of the new Medicare cards that seniors need to avoid:
- Requests for money: Seniors are receiving calls from scammers telling them they need to pay for their new cards or pay for temporary cards during the transition period. Seniors may be asked to provide bank information, to wire money, or to purchase prepaid cards and provide card numbers.
- Requests for information: Seniors receive calls or emails from scammers telling them they must provide personal information -- such as their current Medicare numbers, their Social Security numbers, or other personal identifying details -- to get their new card. Seniors are also being told their new card has fallen into the wrong hands or been lost and they must provide their Social Security number to confirm their identity.
These calls are always scams. Medicare will not call seniors to request either money or sensitive personal information over the phone.
Unfortunately, scammers often use sophisticated spoofing techniques to make it appear phone calls come from legitimate government agencies. Scammers may also refer to the seniors they call by their names, but just because a caller knows your name doesn't mean the caller is someone to trust.
How to protect yourself from fraud
To make sure you don't fall victim to fraud or identity theft, know when your new Medicare card will be arriving. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has a list on its website with the mailing dates for new cards. Mailing dates are based on geographic region, with the first set of cards on track to be mailed between April 2018 and June 2018.
You should not have to provide any personal information to anyone via phone or email in order to get your new Medicare card. Your card will automatically be mailed to your address on file with the Social Security Administration.
This means the only action you might need to take is to update your address with Social Security if you have an outdated address on file. You can do that using your online Social Security account or by calling 1-800-772-1213. Other than the Social Security Administration, don't give anyone else any details.
Because your old Medicare card has identifying information, including your Social Security number, make sure to dispose of it properly by shredding it, rather than just tossing it in the trash. And don't continue carrying your old card in your wallet after receiving your new card, or you'll continue to be more vulnerable to identity theft than necessary.
Watch the mail and avoid phishing scams
The good news is, transitioning to your new Medicare card without getting scammed is easy. Just watch the mail for your new card to arrive on schedule, properly dispose of your old one, and avoid giving out any information to anyone you don't know and you'll have nothing to worry about.