A decision earlier this year by Medicare to stop using its beneficiaries' Social Security numbers as account numbers has not gone unnoticed by scammers.

In April, Medicare began sending its members new cards with unique eleven-digit account numbers, ending the previous reliance on SSA numbers. The transition to new cards and numbers is ongoing and is scheduled to be completed in December of 2019.

Always on the lookout for new hooks, scammers are on the move, developing ways to take advantage of any confusion that may be related to the transition.

In recent weeks, the FCC has been receiving complaints about scammers calling pretending to be Medicare representatives, often using caller ID spoofing to mask their identity. The calls may be live or initiated through robocall technology.

Medicare scammers may use different angles in attempts to steal your money or your identity: Some callers may request payment for the new Medicare card, according to a Detroit Free Press article. Others may pose as medical insurers and threaten to cancel your insurance if you don't share information from the new card.  If successful, these identity thieves can use a beneficiary's information to file false claims, fill prescriptions, or sell it to other bad actors on the dark web.

Medicare has posted information about the new cards on www.medicare.gov/newcard. You should know:

  • There is no fee for the new card; it will be mailed to you automatically as long as your address is up to date.
  • Medicare will never call you uninvited to request personal or private information in order for you to get your new Medicare number and card.
  • If someone asks you for your information, for money, or threatens to cancel your health benefits if you don't share your personal information, hang up and call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). For more information visit www.medicare.gov/fraud.

You can always file consumer complaints about phone scams with the FCC or the FTC.

Read the FCC Complaint Center FAQ to learn more about the FCC's informal complaint process, including how to file a complaint, and what happens after a complaint is filed.


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Friday, September 28, 2018