New Medicare Cards Mean New Scams: Here’s What You Need to Know

A Yazoo City, Miss., resident holds copies of a Medicare approved drug card application in Yazoo City.
A Yazoo City, Miss., resident holds copies of a Medicare approved drug card application in Yazoo City. Rogelio Solis/AP Photo

Last year we told you about the new Medicare card recipients would be getting in 2018.

The new cards will no longer include Social Security numbers, gender or signatures, and will instead use a computer-generated series of letters and numbers to better protect recipients’ identities against scams.

And as soon as the announcement was made, scammers started using the new cards as bait for new identity theft tactics.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

Medicare scams are nothing new, and these particular scams are the same wolves in different moo-moos.

Scammers will call up Medicare beneficiaries and tell them that to get their new card, they need to provide their Social Security number and banking information.

From there, the scammer can use the Social Security number to open bank accounts, get medical care, and steal benefits or tax refunds.

This is unfortunate, but the new cards are long overdue. In instances of fraud, Social Security numbers are difficult to change, but if someone shady gets hold of your Medicare unique identifier, that can easily be switched up.

There are 58.5 million Medicare cards being mailed out between April 2018 and April 2019, which is a lot of opportunity for these scammers. To save you or someone you know the hassle of identity theft, here are the facts about getting your new Medicare card.

1. You Don’t Need to Do Anything to Get Your New Medicare Card

The government is busy enough. Medicare isn’t going to call you asking for information it already has. The only thing you need to do is make sure your mailing address is up-to-date and just sit around wait for your card.

If you’re worried your address may not be up-to-date, you can update it one of three ways: online, over the phone (by calling 800-772-1213) or at a local Social Security office.

2. Don’t Expect Your Card Right Away

Speaking of sitting around and waiting for your new card, you may want to get up and walk around a little.

Medicare is mailing out cards by geographic region over 12 months. You can check its website to see where you fall on its delivery schedule.

3. Your Current Card Is Good Through the End of 2019

Don’t panic if you don’t see your new card soon.

Current cards will be accepted through Dec. 31, 2019. When you do get your new card, immediately shred the old one and start using the new one. New cards don’t need to be activated and will be accepted immediately upon delivery.

4. Medicare Advantage Cards Aren’t Changing

Don’t expect a new Medicare Advantage card. They already use unique identification numbers, so those won’t change.

5. Reporting Fraud Helps Everyone

You might get one of these calls and just hang up, but considering reporting it. The more information there is on these scammers, the fewer people they can deceive.

If you’ve received one of these new senior scam calls, report it online to your state’s Senior Medicare Patrol or by phone to the Medicare Fraud tip line at 800-MEDICARE. If you’ve been a victim of this type of fraud, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

Jen Smith is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder and gives tips for saving money and paying off debt on Instagram at @savingwithspunk.