Protecting your identity — it’s why Medicare users are getting new cards this month. New cards will be getting a number change to help deter thieves from mining Social Security numbers. But, some scammers are taking advantage of this transition and the Fresno County District Attorney’s office wants people to be careful.
One of the most important things you own is your 9-digit Social Security number. The FCDA’s office calls it a treasure trove for thieves. It’s why they’re applauding the new design of Medicare cards coming to the Central Valley.
The new design replaces the Medicare user’s 9-digit Social Security number with an 11-digit ID number to lessen identification theft and Medicare fraud. Medicare users don’t have to do anything when they get their new card, nor do their benefits change.
“[Scammers] can certainly get medical services on your behalf, but more importantly, what it’s preventing is [them being able to] assume your identity. Otherwise, be able to open up cards and everything else in your name,” said Tim Donovan, senior deputy district attorney. Donovan also is part of the FCDA’s elder abuse unit.
Scammers aren’t giving up, though. The FCDA and Better Business Bureau Central California branch say many are using this time in-between cards to their advantage.
“The scammer will all them and say you need to pay for your new Medicare card and the senior will just fall for it,” said BBB spokeswoman Kayleena Speakman. She adds another tactic scammers are using is asking Medicare patients’ for their Social Security numbers to verify the card in the mail is correct.
Lorelei Piantedosi, with Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said Medicare services will never call patients. Also, just because the new Medicare ID is safer, doesn’t mean everyone should know it.
“The most important thing,” she said. “When you get the new card, make sure you’re only giving that new number to legitimate healthcare providers.”
When you get your new card, the FCDA said you should shred or destroy your old one.