Release of New Medicare Cards Seen as Opportunity for Scammers

Release of New Medicare Cards Seen as Opportunity for Scammers Click to Enlarge

BISMARCK, N.D. - New Medicare cards soon will be on their way to more than 120,000 North Dakotans and 58 million Americans nationwide.

Unfortunately, scammers eye this as opportunity to steal people's identity.

The new cards actually are meant to increase security for beneficiaries by removing their Social Security numbers from the cards and replacing them with Medicare ID numbers.

However, a recent AARP survey found three-quarters of Medicare enrollees didn't know or had little knowledge of the plan to issue new cards.

Josh Askvig, director of AARP North Dakota, says there are reports in the state of people posing as Medicare representatives over the phone.

"They call a beneficiary on the phone and demand a payment via credit card of a processing fee," he relates. "So they say, 'Hey, you need to pay this processing fee and we'll issue you a new card.' Well, there's no fee for the new card. No fee exists."

Askvig says scammers have also been asking for people's Social Security numbers and bank account information.

He notes that Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services officials will never call unsolicited to ask for personal information.

Cards are expected to be in the mail for North Dakotans after this month.

The AARP study on new Medicare cards finds people are vulnerable to fraud. Six in 10 respondents weren't sure if the new cards came with a fee, and half wouldn't question a call from Medicare officials asking for their Social Security numbers.

Askvig advises people to hang up immediately if they get a call like this.

"We then encourage you to report it to the AARP Fraud Watch Network so that we can keep track of where these scammers might be calling into, because if they're often calling into your community or your neighborhood, it's likely your neighbors and friends and other community members will receive a similar type of call," he states.

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