If you are an individual who focuses on personal data security, one of the most surprising things you discover when it’s time to offer support to aging parents is that Social Security numbers appear right on the front of the Medicare card. Americans are told not to carry their Social Security cards around, but once they begin receiving Medicare benefits, their Social Security numbers are printed on a different card.
The good news is that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will be sending updated and more secure cards, issuing them between beginning April 2018 and April 2019. Each new Medicare card will have a unique, randomly assigned identification number that has no connection to a Social Security number. A new Medicare number will cut down on fraud and fight identity theft. CMS will begin mailing about 60 million new cards in April 2018 and will take a year to get them all mailed. No beneficiary needs to do or pay anything for a new card — it will arrive in the mail.
This one-year roll-out does create the potential for new card fraud. Already reports are surfacing that phone callers ask for a credit card, telling people that they need to pay up front for the new Medicare identification.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has published a memo with information about the fraudulent phone callers. Here are the three main points that all adult children need to review with their parents.
- Is someone calling, claiming to be from Medicare, and asking for your Social Security number or bank information? Hang up. That’s a scam. First, Medicare won’t call you. Second, Medicare will never ask for your Social Security number or bank information.
- Is someone asking you to pay for your new card? That’s a scam. Your new Medicare card is free.
- Is someone threatening to cancel your benefits if you don’t give up information or money? Also a scam. New Medicare cards will be mailed out to you automatically. There won’t be any changes to your benefits.
Good Articles to Read About the New Medicare Identification Card:
- New Medicare Cards Debut in 2018 — AARP
- Medicare is Mailing 60 Million New Cards — NPR
- New Medicare Cards for Recipients Will Omit Social Security Numbers — New York Times
- New Medicare Cards Can Make Seniors Vulnerable to New Scams — WSPA.com (South Carolina)