Starting after June and continuing over the next year, seniors in North Carolina will receive new Medicare cards in the mail.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid will issue cards with a new Medicare number and a Medicare Beneficiary Number that is comprised of 11 randomly generated digits and capital letters. Formerly, the Medicare cards reflected seniors’ Social Security numbers, which made seniors vulnerable targets of identity theft. The new cards are a welcome change that is intended to prevent fraud on seniors.
While the new cards are intended to protect seniors, their issuance has spawned a number of phony phishing scams targeted towards seniors. The two primary scams relate to: (1) a request for private information; and (2) a request for money.
These scams include telephone calls from scammers, claiming to be from Medicare, seeking your direct deposit number and using the new cards as a reason to call. Other scammers seek out Social Security numbers to verify information, claiming that your new card fell into the wrong hands. Still others ask for money to receive the new card or a temporary card.
In some cases, scammers are threatening to cancel seniors’ health benefits if the requested information is not provided. These scammers are using sophisticated spoofing techniques to make it appear as if the call originated from a government agency.
Note well - Medicare will never call seniors to seek money or ask for personal or private information in exchange for a new card. If someone asks you for money or private information or threatens to cancel your health benefits, call 1-800-MEDICARE to report the activity or contact your local Senior Medicare Patrol here.
To avoid falling victim to the new scams, follow these helpful hints:
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has posted information online here with expected mailing dates for new cards across the country. The mailing dates are based on geographic region. People enrolling in Medicare will be among the first to receive new cards.
Seniors in North Carolina can expect to begin receiving their new cards after June and through April 2019. You will not have to pay anything or do anything to receive your new card, so long as your address is current with the Social Security Administration. Your Medicare benefits will remain the same. While the new numbers on the cards are deemed “non-intelligent” – having no hidden meaning – the numbers should be kept private and protected just like any other private information.
Kara Gansmann is an attorney in the Wilmington office of Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP, where her practice encompasses elder law and estate planning. Kara advises individuals and families with estate planning needs and asset protection tactics. In this role, she strategizes with clients to preserve assets for long-term care and to leave legacy gifts to family members. Kara works with elderly clients in need of Medicaid crisis planning and Medicaid applications. As part of her practice, Kara drafts wills, trusts and powers of attorney. In the courtroom, Kara represents clients in the administration of estates, guardianship/incompetency proceedings, and guardianship administration. Kara also litigates estate and trust matters, including will caveats, the modification or termination of trusts, and litigation arising from estate documents or fiduciary roles. She is a member of the North Carolina Bar Association Elder Law and Special Needs Section and serves as co-chair of the CLE Committee for that section. Kara also serves as a liaison between the North Carolina Bar Association Elder Law and Special Needs Section and the North Carolina Bar Association Estate Planning and Fiduciary Law Section.
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