For many years Medicare used a person’s Social Security number as his or her Medicare number which put Medicare recipients in serious danger of identity theft, Medicare resisted changing the Medicare number to a safer random number for many years. Finally, in April 2018, new cards began being sent by regular mail to all 60 million Americans enrolled in Medicare and since 2020 the switch over to new more secure Medicare card numbers was complete.
But this has not stopped identity thieves. Many older Americans are receiving emails or phone calls purporting to be from Medicare either offering new plastic cards to replace their paper cards or new Medicare cards with microchips. All the targeted victim has to do is merely verify their Medicare number. And while your Medicare number is no longer your Social Security number, giving it to an identity thief can cause you substantial problems when you try to access Medicare as well as cost the American taxpayers millions of dollars.
It is easy to determine when you receive a phone call, email or text message from Medicare. They don’t contact you by email, text message or by phone so anytime you are contacted in this manner, you can be confident it is a scam. As for phone calls purporting to be from Medicare, you should never provide your Medicare number, Social Security number, credit card number or any other personal information to anyone who calls you on the phone because you can never be sure they are legitimate. Even if your Caller ID indicates the call is from Medicare, the IRS or some other legitimate organization, through a technique called “spoofing” your Caller ID can be tricked into making it appear that the call is legitimate.
The real Medicare also will not contact you and ask you to verify your Medicare number and there are no new plastic cards or Medicare cards with microchips. If you get a call asking for personal information that appears legitimate, merely hang up and call the company or agency at a number that you independently know is legitimate to find out the truth.
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