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Scam alert in advance of Medicare changes April 1

It’s no April Fools joke…and the joke’s on you if you don’t ignore the call.

Heads up, seniors and caretakers of seniors. With new Medicare ID cards coming out April 1, insurance sources are warning about scammers trying to take advantage of the changes.

The changes: Congress passed legislation requiring that Social Security numbers be removed from all Medicare identification cards. Starting April 1, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will mail Medicare recipients new cards with what are called Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) numbers. The changes are designed to mitigate the risk of medical identity theft.

Ironically, scam artists may be piggy-backing those changes to commit identity theft.

Charlene Thompson, a licensed agent with Allstate Insurance Agent Michael Heffernan’s agency in Cordova, Tennessee, has asked me to warn you about an anticipated identity theft phishing call designed to confuse seniors about the new MBI cards. “Somebody will call you, pretending to represent Medicare, and tell you that you will be getting a new card. But until it comes, they tell you will need a temporary card,” Thompson said. “The fee for the temporary card is between $5-50 dollars. They will ask for personal information, bank account or a credit card number to process the card.”

There is no “temporary card,” folks. It’s a scam, and it’s easy to spot when you know the rule: no government agency, especially Medicare and CMS, will ever initiate a call to you requesting money or financial information.

“Medicare will never call you unless you ask them to,” Thompson reiterated. “Medicare does all communications by mail. Don’t fall for a scammer’s tricky language, like “I work with Medicare to make sure that you get everything you are entitled to.'”

This a ruse aimed right at your elderly loved ones.

Please: do not answer calls from numbers you do not recognize on your caller ID, even if the area code is familiar. Let your voicemail screen those calls. Remember, neither Medicare nor any federal, state or local government agency will ever initiate a call to you unless you called that agency first or you asked its representatives to call you.

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