Since April, new Medicare cards have been hitting mailboxes to combat fraud. The new cards replace the Social Security numbers with a Medicare number unique to each member. Though removing Social Security numbers is a step in the right direction to fight identity theft, con artists have been using this change as an opportunity to take advantage of unsuspecting Medicare members.
Con artists may try to coerce you into providing information through the phone. There have been several instances of scammers posing as Medicare representatives to demand a payment for the new card. The card is free, so hang-up immediately if someone tries to convince you otherwise.
Scammers may also call to confirm your Social Security or Medicare number. Medicare representatives will never call out of the blue to request this information. If you are unsure whether you are talking with a Medicare employee or con artist trying to steal your money, you can always end the call and reach out to Medicare’s online contact portal or call 1-800-MEDICARE.
Claiming that you are eligible for a refund is perhaps con artists' most compelling tactic to steal information. They may say you were overcharged and could receive a refund if you provide them with your bank account information. Always be skeptical of a caller who asks for such sensitive information. If you have any doubts, hang up.
Texas Medicare recipients will receive their new cards sometime after June.
To prevent fraud, take this one step when your new card arrives: Promptly and properly dispose of your old Medicare card. Treat your old card like an old credit card. Cut it into as many pieces as you can and separate the pieces into different trash bags. Do anything you can do to hide your Social Security number from malicious scammers.
Knowing when to expect your card in the mail will prevent con artists from stealing it from your mailbox. Track your new card by visiting medicare.gov/NewCard.