Scammers are targeting Mississippi seniors to get their personal information using the new Medicare Card roll-out as an excuse.
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid is systemically mailing out new I.D. cards for Medicare. The federal health insurance program is for Americans 65 and older. The new cards have an 11-digit I.D. number that's randomly generated. In 2015, Congress ordered the change because the old cards used social security numbers as identification. Kathy McKeithen is with SHIP, the State Health Insurance Assistance Program.
"This is being done to prevent fraud and abuse of Medicare and also the fraud and abuse of their social security numbers," said McKeithen.
Keith Havens is with Senior Medicare Patrol in Oxford. The federally-funded program educates seniors about fraud and how to protect themselves. He says scammers are using the new cards as a pretense to call Mississippi Medicare enrollees. Havens says the tactics range from requests to verify bank information to charging a fee for the card.
"Medicare is not going to call them on the phone. Medicare does all of their communication through the mail and your new Medicare card is going to be mailed to you. You don't have to reapply. There's no fee," said Havens.
Havens says seniors don't have to do anything to receive their new Medicare I.D. cards. He does advice them to check with the Social Security Administration to make sure the agency has their correct address. Havens says Mississippi enrollees should start receiving their new Medicare I.D. cards next month. But the process will take up to April of 2019 to complete. For questions about the new Medicare Cards or to report a scam contact the Senior Medicare Patrol:(877) 272-8720.