The following is a reprint of a letter of the Editor from Ron Iverson, President of the National Association of Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage Producers.
Background: As dictated by 2015 legislation, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will begin the roll-out of new Medicare cards without the use of social Security numbers. Sadly, the scamsters are always looking to take advantage of a new script.
Letter of the Editor by Ron Iverson
There is great news for Medicare enrollees, 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 enrollees who have had their cards compromised by internet bandits.
The new cards will have an 11-digit number that will have no relation to your Social Security number. So that is good news. I understand that Montana 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 US 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.
So, we don’t know when or how the scammers will spring into operation in your area, but if you receive one of these calls, just hang up and report the activity with a call to 1-800-Medicare (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.
My Comments: Thank you Ron for your timely letter and information about the new Medicare card rollout. Let’s review some common techniques used by scammers and how to avoid becoming a victim.
- Governmental agencies such as the SSA, IRS, and CMS always communicate with you via U.S. Mail. They do not phone you nor do they email you. You can automatically assume that any purported “governmental” communication from these sources are either scam or phishing schemes. Hang up to any such phone calls and do NOT open any suspicious emails. Hit the “delete” key.
- In a similar vein, your credit card company, cable company, or tel-com company will never ask you to provide your user and passwords to them so they can ”update” their information. Delete such suspicious emails.
- Passwords: Use complex passwords with 12 or 16 characters. Use a mix of upper case, lower case, numbers and symbols. I highly recommend using a password manager such as Last Pass, KeePass, or 1Password. For more information, please click here.
- Use second factor authentication for critical accounts.
- Be careful about what you post on social media.
- Ron Iverson sent an email to our members warning us about a new phony email touting “TrumpMedicare.” Keep your delete key in good working order