Personal identity theft affects a large and growing number of seniors. People age 65 or older are increasingly the victims of this type of crime. This is why the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is readying a fraud prevention initiative that removes Social Security numbers from Medicare cards. The goal is to help combat identity theft and safeguard taxpayer dollars.
Starting April 2018, CMS will begin mailing new Medicare cards that include a new unique Medicare number. The mailings will be staggered throughout the year, with completion expected by April 2019. Understand that mailing everyone a new card will take some time. Your card might arrive at a different time than your friend’s or family’s. The new Medicare numbers won’t change Medicare benefits. People with Medicare may start using their new Medicare card as soon as they receive it. Destroy the old card.
Protect yourself from fraudulent callers posing to be from CMS or Social Security. These agencies will never call you to verify personal information before mailing your new Medicare card to you. Wyoming is already seeing these types of calls occurring. If you receive a call of this nature, please contact the Wyoming State Health Insurance Program or Senior Medicare Patrol Program with Wyoming Senior Citizens, Inc. at 800-856-4398 to report the fraudulent call. All notifications are reported to CMS.
If you receive a phone call requesting your Medicare number and other personal information, take note of the number from your caller ID if you have one. Do not provide any personal information. Hang up and call Wyoming Senior Citizens and request the Wyoming State Health Insurance Program or Senior Medicare Patrol Program. You may also call if you have any questions or concerns about your Medicare benefits or suspected fraud/abuse.
The 2018 Medicare & You Book, mailed to you each fall, will include a full page of information regarding the new Medicare numbers and will have a picture of what the card will look like. Be watching your mail from April 2018 through April 2019 for your new card.
This article was supported in part by grants 90SA0105 & 90MP0202-03-01 from the Administration for Community Living, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Guest columnist Kelly Wicks is an employee of the Wyoming Senior Citizens, the program director for the Wyoming State Health Insurance Program and the Coordinator for the Senior Medicare Patrol program. Center Stage is written by friends of the Senior Center for the Sheridan Community. It is a collection of insights and stories related to living well at every age.