I got a call from someone saying they are from Medicare and they needed to verify my information. I realized it was a scam and hung up, but I heard Medicare is changing some things … what’s happening?
Scammers love to prey on victims by impersonating real companies, organizations, and agencies. Regularly, consumers report calls to BBB’s Scam Tracker from people claiming to be from “Medicare.” With changes coming to Medicare Cards, watch for bad guys who try to take advantage of the situation.
Here’s what is really happening: The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 requires the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to remove Social Security numbers from all Medicare cards.
By spring 2019 your card will have a new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier instead of your Social Security number. According to CMS, the MBI will be used for transactions such as billing, eligibility status and claim status. The MBI will look different than your Social Security number. It will be made up of numbers and uppercase letters and be 11 characters in length.
Better Business Bureau Serving the Northwest suggests becoming aware of the changes, so you don’t fall victim to scammers. Removing your Social Security number from your Medicare card helps better protect private health care, financial information and federal health care benefits and service payments, but scammers may still try to con people who are unaware of the details of the change.
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To help protect yourself and others from Medicare scams, look out for these warning signs from the Federal Trade Commission:
- “Medicare” calls and asks for your Social Security number or bank information. If someone claims to be from Medicare, it’s a scam. Just hang up! Medicare will not contact you via phone call. They will also never ask for your Social Security number or bank information. Asking for personal or financial information over the phone should raise a red flag. Never give this information to someone you don’t know via a cold call.
- Someone wants you to pay for your new card. If you get asked to transfer any money to obtain your new card, don’t fall for it! Your new Medicare card is free!
- Someone threatens to cancel your benefits if you don’t give them information or money. You won’t have to make any payments or verify your information to receive your new card and your benefits will not change. New Medicare cards will be mailed out to you automatically.
Remember to never give out your Medicare information. Keep your new MBI number private. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services suggest to keep it confidential like the Social Security number and protect it as Personally Identifiable Information.
If you experience a “Medicare scam” or another version, report it to BBB Scam Tracker or the FTC.
For more information on the new changes to your Medicare card, visit the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website.
Emily Valla is Idaho’s marketplace director for Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest. To check a business or report a scam, go to www.bbb.org or call the BBB at 208-342-4649.
Phvntom, Inc. is a digital marketing company located in Boise, Idaho that creates websites, apps, and full-scale promotions/campaigns for other businesses. The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of its authors and were not written by Phvntom. This article was originally published by Idaho Press.