New Medicare Cards Are On the Way

by David Goldfarb

To reduce fraud, the federal government began issuing new Medicare cards to beneficiaries. In 2014, the government counted about 2.6 million instances of identity fraud, a 20 percent increase from 2012.

The government found that many seniors were easy prey for scammers who stole their Social Security numbers and committed identity theft. Some opened financial accounts using the Social Security number, while others committed medical fraud by obtaining medical services impersonating another person.

Increased Safety

Those who are new to Medicare should have received their cards by now. However, those who were already enrolled should get their new card in the coming months.

The new cards will no longer contain a Medicare beneficiary’s Social Security number. Instead, each beneficiary will receive a Medicare number. Your health provider will need to update your records to include your new number, and they are given more than a year to make the transition.

Destroying Your Old Card Safely

Once you receive your new card, safely dispose of your old one so that a scammer doesn’t find it and use your Social Security information. To destroy the card:

  • Put it through a shredder.
  • Cut it into many pieces.

You probably shouldn’t burn the card since that can create a fire hazard. Remember—you want to destroy the card safely. If you can’t find a shredder or can’t use scissors safely, ask a family member or close friend to help you.

Watch for Scams

Seniors are popular targets for scammers, and the transition to new Medicare cards provides them with an opportunity to take advantage of some senior citizens. Protect yourself from fraudsters by remembering the following safety tips:

  • Never pay anyone for your Medicare card. You will get it free of charge. Anyone asks for money in exchange for the card is trying to defraud you.
  • Never provide your new Medicare number to someone who contacts you by phone. Medicare will only call you if you leave a message first. Remember that you do not need to give away your personal information to get a new Medicare card.
  • Always guard your card closely. Treat it as if it is as valuable as a credit card.
  • Keep your new Medicare number private, just as you would your Social Security number. Only give it to pharmacists, doctors, and other healthcare providers.

Even after you receive your new card, protect it. Remember, replacing Social Security numbers with Medicare numbers will not entirely eliminate fraud, as scammers can still use your Medicare number if they can obtain it.

If you feel that you were scammed, report it to the police as soon as possible. You should also call ( Medicare at (800) 633-4227.

Experienced New York Senior Law Attorneys Here for You

Many of our clients are seniors who contact us with Medicare or Medicaid issues. Our philosophy is to treat you with the importance you deserve and to do everything we can to find a favorable resolution to your legal issue. To find out more about what the team of elder law attorneys at Goldfarb Abrandt & Salzman LLP can do for you, contact us by calling (212) 387-8400 to schedule your no-obligation consultation.