To protect Medicare recipients from fraud and identity theft, new Medicare cards will no longer have Social Security numbers on them.
The new cards will automatically be mailed to all 58 million current beneficiaries beginning in April of 2018. The new cards will feature a randomly assigned Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) made up of 11 letters and numbers.
Under the new MBI, your benefits won’t change.
The reason for the change, leaving your Social Security number off of the card, is due to the rising identity theft among those age 65 and older. According to the latest figures from the Department of Justice, the number of cases of identity theft is rising, over 2.6 million reported in 2014.
Scams relating to the new card are already surfacing. Some Medicare recipients report getting calls from scamsters who tell them that they must pay for the new card. They have been asked for their checking account and Medicare card numbers.
Please – do not give out either number. According to Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy with the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse in San Diego, “anyone saying they are going to charge you for a card is a scammer.” The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will never have to be told what your Medicare card number is because they already know it.
You are advised not to share your Social Security number unnecessarily. Only share it for tax reasons, obtaining credit, and to verify employment. Do not carry your Medicare card unless you are on your way to a health care appointment. Instead, make a copy and black out all but the last four digits. This is enough information for a provider to get started in case of emergency. For additional ways to protect yourself and for more information on the new cards, go to: http://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2016/ways-to-protect-against-id-theft.html?intcmp=HEA-EOA2 and https://www.cms.gov
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