Expert Warns of Schemers Targeting Medicare Beneficiaries
WESLACO – Medicare beneficiaries in the Rio Grande Valley are being targeted by telephone crooks.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS learned that schemers are giving false information about the new Medicare cards that will be sent out to recipients as a way of stealing personal information.
A Better Business Bureau coordinator told us the government decided to send the new Medicare cards as a way to help end Medicare fraud.
Unfortunately, many seniors are becoming victims to telephone crooks while they wait for the cards to arrive.
Donna Mozer and her husband say they feel blessed to have reached their 80s. The Nebraska natives started receiving Medicare benefits 15 years ago. The couple said they do their best to protect their personal information.
However, they were shocked to learn that their Social Security number was printed on each of their Medicare cards.
“We didn’t really realize. Thinking about it, I didn’t know that it was on there. I guess I’ve never really looked close enough to think about it,” Mozer said.
Robert Obregon is the senior project coordinator of the Senior Medicare Patrol program at the Better Business Bureau.
He told CHANNEL 5 NEWS since Medicare was created in 1965, recipients’ Social Security numbers have been printed on their cards. He said that’s made it too easy for seniors to fall victim to identity theft.
So the government decided to change things.
“Everyone that is on Medicare will be getting a new card with a new identification number. It will be alphanumeric; it will be unique to you,” Obregon explained.
Obregon said a Medicare beneficiary can expect to receive their new cards between April 2018 and April 2019.
However, he explained many seniors are falling for a new scheme during the waiting period.
"There are people receiving phone calls being told about the new Medicare card. However, they are also being told that they have to send in $50 to a certain address by the end of the year. That they may lose out if they don't etc., and some people are falling for it," Obregon said.
Obregon explained schemers are also asking seniors for their Social Security numbers and other personal info.
He said once that information gets into the wrong hands, Medicare fraud and identity theft follow. Obregon notes Medicare beneficiaries only have to do one thing to receive their new cards.
“The Medicare beneficiary doesn’t have to do anything other than wait for it in the mail. They do not have to call anyone, they do not have to verify their information with anyone, they do not have to send any money to anybody,” Obregon said.
The Mozers told CHANNEL 5 NEWS they’re glad to learn this information. They said if they get a call from a schemer they intend to hang up immediately.
If you are a Medicare beneficiary and you need to update your mailing address, you can contact the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213 or online at their website.
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