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[IMG]There is great news for Medicare enrollee's, and a bit of caution regarding scammers. The good news is that Medicare will be sending out new Medicare cards to each recipient. The cards will arrive sometime between April 1st of this year and will be completed by April 1st of next year.

 The new cards will not have the enrollee’s Social Security number on them, as they do now. This is a major accomplishment for Medicare and is being done to help put a stop to identity theft via Social Security identification numbers. This problem has been rampant nationally and is very serious business for Medicare enrollee's who have had their cards compromised by internet bandits.

The new cards will have an encrypted 11-digit number that even the holder will not be able to “unencrypt.” So that is good news. I understand that Illinois will be in the second wave of states being sent the new cards, and that delivery is scheduled to begin May 1st.

But, along with the good news, bad news sometimes seems to follow. The bad news is that Medicare scammers have already jumped into the game. There is more than one technique involved, but these are the two most used:

  First, scammers are calling Medicare recipients, sometimes identifying themselves as Medicare or “government” officials, and telling them that the new cards are coming out, but that they will have to send $30-$50 to get the new cards. That is bogus — there is no charge for the new cards — and CMS/Medicare does not call people — it only uses the U.S. Postal Service to communicate.

The second technique is for the scammer to say that they have a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plan available, but then request personal Medicare information so that the new plan can be utilized. This is also bogus. Whatever you do, do not fall for this. Medicare information is personal, and the scammers simply use it for other nefarious activities.

Scammers prey on confusion about the new Medicare cards.  Three of four seniors know little or nothing about the cards, as AARP survey says.  Six of ten seniors think they must pay a fee.  Half might not question a call from a claimed Medicare rep.

So, we don’t know when or how the scammers will spring into operation in Illinois, or the Chicago area region. But if you receive one of these calls, just hang up, and report the activity with a call to 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). And…above all, do not feel pressured to respond to any of these calls—the scammers are well trained in intimidation and persistency. Don’t fall for it.

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Posted 4:49 PM

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