Older Americans are being targeted by scam callers that ask for the personal information found on Medicare cards, a government agency says.
Here’s why this scam is now top-of-mind for the FCC: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently started issuing cards using unique Medicare Beneficiary Identifier numbers instead of Social Security numbers, so the FCC is concerned that identity thieves may be working to steal these new numbers.
Medicare phone scam: Here’s how it works
Here’s how the Medicare card scam works:
The caller may spoof the number of a well-known government agency to get you to answer the phone. When you do, the spam caller may start out with pleasant conversation to get you to lower your guard. The FCC says you may hear a script that goes something like this:
- “We need you to confirm the numbers on your new Medicare card to activate it.”
- “Your new Medicare card has an error and we need to replace it.”
- “You were sent the old paper version and there’s a new plastic version.”
Here’s the thing: Never give an unexpected caller your personal information, especially your Medicare card number or Social Security number.
Besides the fact that there are no “plastic” Medicare cards, the FCC says there are several factors to keep in mind:
- You will never receive uninvited calls from Medicare asking for your personal information.
- You will typically always get a letter in the mail from a government agency before a phone call.
- Calls requesting health insurance information should not be trusted.
Here’s how Clark handles scam calls
Clark follows a simple rule to protect himself from scam callers.
“If I don’t recognize the number as being from someone I know, I do not answer the call.”
But what happens if you do answer the call? The FCC says that if a caller threatens to cancel your health benefits because you won’t share personal personal information, take these steps immediately:
- Hang up.
- Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or visit www.medicare.gov/fraud.
- You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP or visit ftc.gov/complaint.