New Cards Mean New Medicare Scams

Debra Shute, October 25, 2017

The FTC warns seniors to hang up if they receive calls from individuals claiming to be from Medicare and asking for Social Security or bank information.

New Medicare cards will be mailed out automatically, starting April of 2018, and are free to all 57 million Americans on Medicare, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has reminded seniors in response to a new wave of scams related to the update.

The new cards—required under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015—will assign each beneficiary a unique, randomly assigned number, known as a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI), which replaces the current Social Security Number–based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN).

The purpose of the change is to reduce identity theft.

But aiming to take advantage of misinformation and confusion among seniors during the transition, scammers are calling seniors and telling them that they must pay for their new Medicare card. According to a Reuters news service report, the senior that filed the complaint was asked for checking account information and Medicare card numbers.

The FTC has verified this report and tells beneficiaries: “Is someone calling, claiming to be from Medicare, and asking for your Social Security number or bank information? Hang up. That’s a scam.”

Debra Shute

Debra Shute is the Senior Physicians Editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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