Washington, DC - Medicare has long been a lucrative target for fraudsters. In fact, Medicare fraud costs taxpayers tens of billions of dollars each year. The schemes range from fraudulent claims for healthcare reimbursements to fake prescriptions for medications and costly medical devices.
“But identity theft is one of the most prolific and personally dangerous types of fraud for individuals. While bogus claims target the system, ID crimes target you, the individual. When criminals steal your Medicare card numbers, they are also gaining illicit access to your Social Security number. Not only can they then use the information to submit phony healthcare claims, but they can also use it to commit bank and credit card fraud, for example,” says Dan Weber, president of the Association of Mature American Citizens [AMAC].
That’s why the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [CMS] will begin issuing new Medicare cards starting in April. The new cards will use random numbers instead of your Social Security numbers as your identifiers.
“It won’t be a foolproof precaution, but it will go a long way toward protecting your identities. It will be up to you to keep your new card safe. The bad guys can still use it to submit fake claims for reimbursement,” according to Weber.
Beware new scams, says the Federal Trade Commission, which has offered these guidelines to Medicare cardholders:
- Don’t pay for your new card. It’s yours for free. If anyone calls and says you need to pay for it, that’s a scam.
- Don’t give personal information to get your card. If someone calls claiming to be from Medicare, asking for your Social Security number or bank information, that’s a scam. Hang up. Medicare will never ask you to give personal information to get your new number and card.
- Guard your card. When you get your new card, safeguard it like you would any other health insurance or credit card. While removing the Social Security number cuts down on many types of identity theft, you’ll still want to protect your new card because identity thieves could use it to get medical services.
“Medicare recipients will not all receive their new cards at the same time,” says Weber. “We will be getting our cards according to a state-by-state schedule that will last from April 2018 to April 2019. To see when you will receive your card, click this link.“