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Senior scam alert: Hang up on cold callers exploiting new Medicare cards to steal identity

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Tue, Apr 24th 2018 01:30 pm
Insurance fraud alliance warns seniors to stay alert to rapidly spreading phone scams
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Just hang up. That's the advice a New York anti-fraud alliance urges for seniors who receive cold calls from scammers trying to steal their identities by exploiting new Medicare cards.
This month, Medicare is mailing new cards with random characters instead of Social Security numbers to nearly 60 million seniors. The security measure can prevent medical and financial ID theft by swindlers who steal seniors' SSNs from the cards.
Yet con artists are cold-calling seniors about the new cards, trying to steal their identities. Swindlers are trying to pirate seniors' SSN, bank account numbers and credit card information, warns the New York Alliance Against Insurance Fraud. That information lets scammers steal a senior's medical and financial identities. The rip-offs can ruin one's credit, drain bank and Medicare accounts, and jeopardize financial wellbeing.
Callers pretend they're from Medicare, and request seniors' personal identifiers. Among the pitches:
•You must pay for your new Medicare card now or else you'll lose your Medicare benefits;
•Medicare is updating its files and needs your bank and credit-card numbers;
•Medicare is confirming your Social Security number before you can receive your new card; and
•Medicare needs your bank information to send you a refund on your old card.
•Watch for emails and texts delivering similar pitches.
Scammers prey on confusion about the new Medicare cards. Three of four seniors know little or nothing about the cards, an AARP survey says. Six of 10 seniors think they must pay a fee. Half might not question a call from a claimed Medicare rep.
The New York alliance offers this advice:
•Just hang up. Medicare won't phone you about the cards. They're also free, and seniors do not have to report or verify information to Medicare;
•Sign up for an alert that Medicare has mailed your new card; and
•Destroy your old Medicare card when your new card arrives.
The new Medicare cards are designed to better protect one's identity without an SSN.
NYAAIF is an alliance of insurance companies doing business in New York. NYAAIF was created in 1999 to educate consumers about the cost of insurance fraud, and help consumers avoid becoming victims. Visit www.fraudny.org.

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