Insurance fraud alliance warns seniors to stay alert to rapidly spreading phone scams
ALBANY, NY (04/24/2018) (readMedia)– Just hang up. That’s the advice a New York anti-fraud alliance urges for seniors who receive cold calls from scammers trying to steal their identities by exploiting new Medicare cards.
Medicare is mailing new cards with random characters instead of SSNs to nearly 60 million seniors, starting in April. The security measure can prevent medical and financial ID theft by swindlers who steal seniors’ SSNs from the cards.
Yet con artists are cold calling seniors about the new cards, trying to steal their identities. Swindlers trying to pirate seniors’ SSN, bank account numbers and credit card information, warns the New York Alliance Against Insurance Fraud.
That information lets scammers steal a senior’s medical and financial identities. The ripoffs can ruin their credit, drain their bank and Medicare accounts, and jeopardize their financial wellbeing.
Callers pretend they’re from Medicare, and request seniors’ personal identifiers. Among the pitches:
- You must pay for your new Medicare card now or else you’ll lose your Medicare benefits.;
- Medicare is updating its files and needs your bank and credit-card numbers.;
- Medicare is confirming your Social Security number before you can receive your new card.; and
- Medicare needs your bank information to send you a refund on your old card.
Watch for emails and texts delivering similar pitches.
Scammers prey on confusion about the new Medicare cards. Three of four seniors know little or nothing about the cards, an AARP survey says. Six of 10 seniors think they must pay a fee. Half might not question a call from a claimed Medicare rep.
The New York alliance offers this advice:
- Just hang up. Medicare won’t phone you about the cards. They’re also free, and nor do seniors have to report or verify info to Medicare.;
- Sign up for an alert that Medicare has mailed your new card; and
- Destroy your old Medicare card when your new card arrives.
The new Medicare cards will better protect your identity without an SSN. With common-sense safeguards, you can let the cards do their work well.
NYAAIF is an alliance of insurance companies doing business in New York. NYAAIF was created in 1999 to educate consumers about the cost of insurance fraud, and help consumers avoid becoming victims. Visit www.fraudny.org.