To guard against identity theft and other forms of fraud that harm Medicare and its beneficiaries, the U.S. government will be issuing new Medicare cards that no longer show the beneficiary’s social security number.
The new cards will display a new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) that will be used for billing and for checking the eligibility and claim status. Just as importantly, these new cards will be issued automatically, without the need to give anyone any additional information, for any reason.
“Having your Social Security number removed from your Medicare card helps fight medical identity theft and protects your medical and financial information. But even with these changes, scammers will still look for ways to take what doesn’t belong to them,” the government said in an announcement.
Here are some ways to avoid Medicare scams:
- If someone calls you claiming to be from Medicare and asks for your Social Security number or bank information, hang up. That’s a scam. Medicare won’t call you and it will never ask for your Social Security number or bank information. Ever.
- Did someone ask you to pay for your new card? That’s also a scam. Your new Medicare card is issued by the government, free of charge.
- Did someone threaten to cancel your benefits if you don’t give information or money? That’s a scam, too, Medicare says. New Medicare cards will be mailed out to you automatically. There won’t be any changes to your benefits.
The government encourages Medicare beneficiaries to report suspected scams to the Federal Trade Commission.