The Better Business Bureau of Coastal Carolina is warning people who have Medicare to be aware of phone calls regarding their new Medicare cards.
South Carolina residents are among those nationwide who should be getting replacement Medicare cards in the mail this month. The new cards no longer include the recipient’s Social Security number.
“Scammers are always looking for a way to make a buck,” BBB of Coastal Carolina President and CEO John D’Ambroiso said. “During this period of transition, it could be kind of easy for the scammers to grab a hold of unsuspecting people.”
D’Ambrosio warns scammers may call, claiming to be from Medicare, and asking recipients for their personal information. He says no matter how legitimate the call appears to be, even if it shows up as “Medicare” on caller I.D., do not give personal information over the phone. The Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services does not seek such information by calls.
“A lot of folks don’t know they’re going to get new cards,” D’Ambrosio said. “And then they get them or they don’t and then they get someone who calls them and wants to verify their information and they don’t even know the new cards are out there.”
Reported scams are callers impersonating Medicare personnel and requesting Social Security numbers or bank account numbers. They are threatening to cancel Medicare benefits if the information is not given to them.
A recent survey by AARP revealed 50 percent of people surveyed said they would not be suspicious if they received a call from someone claiming to be from Medicare who needed to verify information.
“You should be suspicious,” D’Ambrosio said. “Because Medicare won’t call you. They will send you things in the mail.”
If your address has changed and you need to notify Medicare, click here.
D’Ambrosio said another option to hang up and call the Medicare office if you receive a call — not the number on your caller I.D. but look up the actual government number.
“Call the Medicare office and say, ‘Do you have people calling?’ And chances are, the answer’s going to be no since Medicare does not, as a general practice, call. They do their business by mail,” he said. “It’s very easy for seniors to be confused by this.”
Once you receive your new Medicare card, destroy the old one and do not just throw it in the garbage. Once someone gets hold of your Social Security number, your life becomes a nightmare.
“Once they have that, they pretty much own you,” said D’Ambrosio. “Taking advantage of people is terrible. Taking advantage of old people is even worse.”