The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud is warning seniors of an identity-theft scam targeting Medicare recipients.
Starting this month, Medicare will be mailing new cards with random characters – instead of Social Security numbers – to nearly 60 million seniors. The new cards are a security measure to prevent medical and financial ID theft by scammers who steal seniors’ Social Security numbers from the cards, according to the coalition.
But con artists have been cold-calling senior citizens about the new cards, trying to steal Social Security numbers, bank account numbers and credit card information, the coalition warned. Callers pretend they’re from Medicare and request seniors’ personal information. Among the pitches scammers are using are:
- You must pay for your new Medicare card or else you’ll lose your benefits
- Medicare is updating its files and needs your bank and credit card numbers
- Medicare needs to confirm your Social Security number before you can receive your new card
- Medicare needs your bank information in order to send you a refund on your old card
The coalition warned that scam emails and texts are using similar tactics.
“Scammers prey on confusion about the new Medicare cards,” the coalition said. According to an AARP survey, three out of four seniors know little or nothing about the cards, and six in 10 think they must pay a fee. Up to half might not question the legitimacy of a call from someone claiming to be a Medicare representative.
The coalition offered this advice:
- If someone calls you with a pitch about the new cards, hang up. Medicare won’t phone you about the cards. They’re free, and Medicare recipients do not have to report or verify information in order to receive them
- Sign up for an alert that Medicare has mailed the new card
- Destroy your old Medicare card when the new one arrives