Medicare has been mailing new identity cards to its over 5.7 million beneficiaries throughout California in an attempt to reduce identify theft and fraud.
However, scammers are already finding new ways to steal money and or personal information from beneficiaries.
Social security numbers have been removed from the new cards in order to protect both the beneficiaries and the Medicare program from fraud. The new card has an 11 character custom identifier using numbers and letters. But, if scammers have that information, they can steal benefits.
The new scams primarily start on the phone claiming to be from Medicare. They often ask for your personal information or card numbers or money in an attempt to get personal information.
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"Medicare will never call you out of the blue; they will never call you uninvited," said Jack Cheevers of the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicad Services. "If they call you and threaten to cancel it, that's a scam. If they call you asking for your information, that's a scam."
If you get a call from someone claiming to be from Medicare requesting payment for a temporary card, hang up. Beneficiaries don't need a temporary card while waiting for their new card.
New cards started mailing out in June. Cards will be mailed to beneficiaries' homes for free until April of 2019 but cardholders will have until December 2019 to use their old cards.