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September 24, 2017

Medicare-card redo aims to fight fraud


Medicare-card redo aims to fight fraud

WASHINGTON — Medicare cards are getting a makeover to fight identity theft. No longer will Social Security numbers be plastered…


WASHINGTON — Medicare cards are getting a makeover to fight identity theft.

No longer will Social Security numbers be plastered on the cards. In April 2018, Medicare will begin mailing every beneficiary a new card with a unique new number to identify him.

“Criminals are increasingly targeting people age 65 and older for medical identity theft,” Medicare chief Seema Verma said. “We are committed to preventing fraud.”

Medicare revealed the cards’ new design Thursday as the government gears up for a transition that will involve coordination with 58 million beneficiaries and their family members, plus hospitals, doctors, insurance companies, pharmacies and state governments.

While the first mailings of the new cards begin in April, Congress has set an April 2019 deadline for all beneficiaries to have received one.

One goal is to make sure senior citizens know what’s coming so they’re not confused by the change and, in the meantime, that they are reminded to guard their old cards that, if lost or stolen, can leave them vulnerable to financial and legal consequences. The government recorded 2.6 million cases of identity fraud involving senior citizens in 2014, up from 2.1 million in 2012.

Verma said one woman reported her Medicare card was stolen, got a replacement and thought no more about it until two years later when she learned she might be arrested: The thief had impersonated her to get opioid painkillers.

Medicare has set up a website — www.cms.gov/newcard — and is beginning ads to tell beneficiaries what to expect starting next spring. Medicare will automatically mail beneficiaries their new cards. They’ll be instructed to destroy their old cards after they get a new one. New cards may be used right away.

Private insurers already have stopped using Social Security numbers on ID cards.

While the Medicare change is crucial for senior citizens, the transition period also is a time when crooks may pounce, warned AARP’s Amy Nofziger, a fraud prevention expert.

“If anyone calls you to say you need to pay for your new Medicare card, it is a scam,” she said. “If anybody is calling you and asking you to verify your Social Security number in order to issue your new Medicare card, it is a scam.”

A Section on 09/15/2017


Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Medicare-card redo aims to fight fraud

Medicare-card redo aims to fight fraud

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