Beginning in April, Medicare will start a year-long program to replace all current Medicare cards and issue new ID numbers. The new ID number will no longer be a beneficiary’s Social Security number. This change is part of an effort to better protect seniors from identity theft. Ironically, scammers are taking advantage of the situation to do just that. Here’s what to watch out for:  Scammers call seniors posing as Medicare representatives and tell the seniors that they’ll be getting new Medicare cards. The scammer then says that a temporary card will be issued, and asks for personal information such as bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, or credit card information in order to process the temporary card. Callers may also ask for payment for the new card.

To protect yourself and your loved ones from becoming a victim, remember the following points:

  • Medicare does all communication by mail unless you request otherwise. A representative will never call or visit you unless you have made prior arrangements.
  • New Medicare cards will be sent automatically to all Medicare recipients. You do not have to do anything (make a request, pay, provide information) to receive the new card. Never agree to pay a fee or provide personal information in order to get your card.
  • The process of issuing new cards is a lengthy one, so not everyone will receive the new card at the same time. There is no need to pay a “rush charge” or any other fee associated with getting a new card. Simply use your current card until your new one arrives.
  • DO NOT share your Medicare number with anyone other than your doctor, pharmacist, other health care providers, and your supplemental insurance company.
  • If someone asks you for your information or for money, or threatens to cancel your health benefits if you don’t share your personal information, hang up and call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). 

More information on Medicare is available at the government’s official Medicare site at medicare.gov.