COLUMBIA, Mo. – New Medicare cards are on their way to everyone enrolled in the program. Cards will be mailed automatically and free of charge. People should be wary of anyone calling to offer assistance with the cards or to request money or personal information, says Brenda Procter, University of Missouri associate extension professor.
“Any time changes are made to programs that target the elderly, scam artists come out of the woodwork,” says Procter.
If someone calls claiming to be from Medicare and asks for your Social Security number or bank information, hang up, she says. “People who call offering help with your cards are scam artists who want your money.”
Scammers may even threaten to cancel your benefits if you don’t give up information. Medicare will never ask for your Social Security number or bank information, Procter says.
The new cards are intended to provide more privacy protection than the old cards, which used Social Security numbers as identifiers.
The mailings, which began in April, are coming in waves. Missouri’s cards are due to be mailed “after June 2018,” according to the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
“Mailings this massive take time so people shouldn’t be concerned if their neighbor gets a new card before theirs arrives,” Procter says.
CMS offers a few tips and things to know about the new cards:
• You can and should destroy your old card when the new one arrives. You can start using your new card immediately.
• If you are using a Medicare Advantage plan, the card for that plan is still your main Medicare card, so you need to keep it and be ready to show it to providers. They may also ask you to show the new card.
• Only share your Medicare number with those who need to know it, like providers, insurers or someone working on your behalf.
• New cards are paper and you can print your own replacement card if you need one.
• Carry your card with you any time you see a medical provider. If you forget your card, your provider may be able to look up your new Medicare number online.
If someone asks you for your information or money, or threatens to cancel your health benefits if you don't share your personal information, hang up and call Medicare toll-free at 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227). TTY users can call 877-486-2048.
If you suspect identity theft or worry that you gave your personal information to someone you shouldn't have, contact the Federal Trade Commission. Call toll-free at 877-438-4338 or 866-653-4261 (TTY), or file a report online at www.identitytheft.gov.
For more information about the new Medicare cards, visit www.medicare.gov/newcard.