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The distribution of new Medicare cards has prompted predators to try to trick consumers into giving up their money or personal information, according to a news release from Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman.
Coffman issued a warning in early May to be on the lookout for scammers calling, emailing or texting and claiming to be officials from Medicare. The scammers might threaten to cancel health benefits, or claim to need payment or private information to issue a new Medicare card, the release said.
Medicare started issuing new cards to all beneficiaries in April; however, in Colorado, cards will be mailed sometime after June. To better protect consumers’ identities, the cards no longer contain Social Security numbers.
Instead, Medicare is assigning unique numbers to each patient for use with doctor visits and medical claims.
“Medicare will not call consumers offering to replace their cards, they’ll never seek personal information or charge you to replace a card,” Coffman said in the release. “We want to make sure that consumers protect their private data, don’t give out their Social Security numbers or financial information and don’t fall victim to scammers.”
Following is some information to help consumers avoid getting caught up in a Medicare card scam:
New cards will be sent directly to consumers’ mailing address. To update address, call Social Security at 800-772-1213 or visit ssa.gov/myaccount.
If a consumer receives a phone call, email or text offering to help with this transition, they should ignore the offer. Consumers should never provide or verify any personal information to an unsolicited caller or written request.
New cards will be mailed in waves. Cards for Colorado residents are not scheduled to be mailed until after June. It is likely that Colorado beneficiaries will not receive their new cards until late 2018 or early 2019.
Once consumers receive their new cards, they should shred and/or thoroughly destroy their old cards.
Consumers should provide their new Medicare numbers only to their known doctors, insurers, pharmacists and health-care providers
Anyone with questions about the Medicare card transition can contact AARP Foundation ElderWatch at 303-222-4444 or www.aarp.org/aarp-foundation/our-work/income/elderwatch/.
AARP Foundation ElderWatch Colorado is a program with the Colorado attorney general and AARP Foundation whose mission is to ensure that no older adults are left to suffer, alone and in silence, at the hands of those who exploit them. The program fights the financial exploitation of older Coloradans through education and outreach, data collection, and the providing of assistance.
If you have been victimized by a Medicare card scam, or wish to report suspicious activity, you can file a report online at www.stopfraudcolorado.gov/about-consumer-protection/report-fraud.
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