Scammers love to prey on senior citizens, and they often use false claims about Medicare benefits, payments and cards as the basis for their cons. Know what to expect so you don’t become the next victim.
Your Personal Information
The Minnesota Attorney General issued a warning about scam phone calls, but they’re not limited to the state of Minnesota.
Scammers often pose as employees of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), although they may also pretend to be from the Social Security Administration or another agency. They often call senior citizens, possibly multiple times and from “spoofed” numbers, which means a different number will show up on caller ID.
Scammers use multiple tactics. Sometimes, they’ll say you’re due a refund or a reduced payment. They just need to verify your information first. This is a lie. They want your information so they can engage in identity theft. Other times, they may say you owe them money, and they need your credit card or bank account information immediately. This is another lie.
CMS is issuing new Medicare cards. It’s supposed to reduce participants’ risk to identity theft, but some scammers may use it as an opportunity for new cons.
The new cards will be sent out starting April 2018, but don’t worry if you don’t receive yours immediately. The deadline to have the cards replaced is April 2019, and you can use your old card until you receive a new one.
The new cards will have a Medicare number that is different from your Social Security Number. Not having the Social Security Number on the card will help individuals keep their number private, which is important to avoid identity theft.
You do not need to pay a fee or provide information to receive a new card. If someone calls telling you they need your information or money to give you a new card, that person is a scammer. Do not provide your personal information.
What to Do
When CMS contacts you, it’s often via an official notice sent through the mail. A CMS employee will not call you unexpectedly and demand personal information from you. If someone does this, do not fall for the scam. Do not engage with the scammer, as it may encourage them to persist and try to wear you down. The scammer may become very aggressive, but don’t give in. Hang up. You can also report instances of these scams to CMS and the FBI.
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