As part of recent measures to protect the Social Security numbers of Medicare beneficiaries, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Studies (CMS) has issued new Medicare ID cards with a random, 11-digit number. However, reports suggest scammers are simply retooling their efforts with more creative ways to extract personal financial information from victims, often times posing as a Medicare representative to do so.
According to an article by CNBC, would be scammers are calling Medicare beneficiaries under the guise of offering renewal or replacement of the new ID cards. Scammers will ask victims for payment to process the new ID card even though the cards are free and do not require beneficiaries to take extra steps to obtain. The scam sounds simple but believable enough to victims who do not want to interrupt their vital healthcare services.
Other scams aimed at Medicare beneficiaries include fake representatives trying to upsell Part D prescription drug coverage under the threat of the individual losing his or her Medicare coverage altogether. Beneficiaries should know that Part D prescription drug coverage if voluntary and not required to maintain benefits. While some scams attempt to fool Medicare beneficiaries into handing over a cash payment, others involve full fledged identity theft.
One of the more common identity theft scams involving Medicare includes scammers calling beneficiaries telling the individual he or she is entitled to a refund from CMS but that personal financial information like a Social Security number and bank account are need to process the transaction. With the information gathered, scammers can engaged in all kinds of fraud ranging from obtaining prescription medication to filing false billing claims.
Studies looking into the impact of medical identity theft estimate the average case can cost victims up to $13,500 to resolve and its one of the top complaints from consumers with cases rising over 20 percent year over year. Although it may seem elementary not to give out your personal identification information over the phone, scammers attempt to take advantage of the good will in people in order to line their own pockets.
As a rule, Medicare does not contact beneficiaries over the telephone and will instead transmit all necessary correspondence through mail. Beneficiaries who suspect they were victims of medical fraud are encouraged to contact Medicare by calling 800-MEDICARE or go to Medicare.gov and report the details of the interaction.