There’s a new scam you need to be aware of, if you or family members are on Medicare. The Federal government is issuing new Medicare cards to help prevent fraud. But, that is offering scammers a new opportunity.
Oklahoma has about 700,000 people on Medicare.
New cards without the social security numbers printed on them are being issued to Medicare members in June. So, fraudsters are working quickly now to get those numbers while they still can.
“They called and asked if I was who I am and I said, ‘Yes’,” recalls Verna Stricklin. She recently received a call that there was a problem with her Medicare card. “They said somebody else is using it. I said, ‘Oh really’.”
The person on the other end of the line asked for her social security number to help her change to a different insurance plan.
That is one of likely thousands of scenarios scammers use to commit medical identity theft.
“Fraudsters can use this to open credit accounts, they can use it to file false claims,” explains Ray Walker, the Division Director of the Medicare assistance program with the Oklahoma Insurance Department.
The new Medicare cards will prevent that. But scammers quickly found a way to use the new cards to their advantage.
“They’re calling and telling people you’re going to get a new Medicare number. Isn’t that great. So, we need to verify your information to make sure we get the right number transitioned over to your new number,” explains Walker.
Walker says scammers are also calling and asking if you have received the new card and offering to track it down using your old card number. They are saying there’s a charge for the new cards.
“One, nobody from Medicare or the Social Security Administration is going to call you about these cards. Two there is no charge for these new cards,” says Walker.
Medicare providers will be able to accept both the current Medicare numbers as well as the new Medicare numbers during the transition period. Providers will be able to accept the current numbers until December 30, 2019. But starting January 1, 2020, only the new numbers will be allowed.
The best advice if you get a call? Do exactly like Verna.
“I said you know I may be old, but I’m not stupid. And I hung up.”
The Insurance Department is hosting a number of seminars to help seniors avoid fraud.
Each seminar is free for seniors and includes breakfast. Attendees must register online at map.oid.ok.gov or by calling 800-763-2828.