Are Medicare card substitute phone calls legit?

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If someone claiming to be from Medicare calls you about replacing your card and requests personal or banking information, you must hang up immediately.

Medicare is a federal medical insurance program that pays for covered health care services for many people who find themselves age 65 and older, and for certain younger individuals with disabilities. Greater than 63 million Americans are currently enrolled in Medicare, in keeping with the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). 

VERIFY viewer Robert P. recently asked our team to verify whether Medicare is looking people to ask if their eligibility date information is correct with the intention to send out latest Medicare cards. He desires to know if it is a scam. 

THE QUESTION

Are Medicare card substitute phone calls a scam? 

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

Yes, Medicare card substitute phone calls are a scam. Medicare won’t ever contact anyone for his or her Medicare number or other personal information unless the beneficiary has given them permission upfront. 

WHAT WE FOUND

In 2018, Medicare decided to stop using social security numbers as account numbers to assist keep its members’ information safer and to guard their identity. In April of that 12 months, it began mailing latest Medicare cards with unique 11-digit account numbers. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said that the transition to the brand new cards was scheduled to be accomplished by December 2019.

During that point, the FCC said it began receiving complaints about scammers calling people pretending to be Medicare representatives. The FCC said the scammers often used caller ID spoofing to mask their identity. (Spoofing is when a caller deliberately falsifies the data transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity.) 

The FCC said a number of the scammers requested payment for the brand new Medicare card, while others posed as medical insurers and threatened to cancel people’s insurance in the event that they didn’t share information from the brand new card over the phone. 

In an email, a U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) spokesperson told VERIFY Medicare won’t ever contact anyone for his or her Medicare number or other personal information, including eligibility dates, unless the beneficiary has given them permission upfront. 

As a substitute, CMS says on its website that Medicare, or someone representing Medicare, will only call and ask for private information in these two situations:

  • A Medicare health or drug plan may call you in the event you’re already a member of the plan. The agent who helped you join may call you.
  • A customer support representative from 1-800-MEDICARE can call you in the event you’ve called and left a message or a representative said that somebody would call you back.

In the event you are usually not expecting a call or are unsure if Medicare is de facto attempting to contact you, you must hang up and call 1-800-MEDICARE. 

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), AARP, and the Office of Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison all say if someone calls you claiming to be from Medicare, they usually ask on your social security number or your bank information with the intention to get your latest card or latest advantages, that could be a scam, and you must hang up immediately. 

All of them also warn against giving your personal information to a caller claiming to be from Medicare. 

“You possibly can’t trust caller ID. These calls may be spoofed so they give the impression of being like they’re coming from Medicare even once they’re not. Before you give any personal information, initiate your personal call to Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE,” the FTC says.

In the event you receive a call requesting your Medicare number, you must contact the U.S. Health and Human Services fraud line at 1-800-HHS-Suggestions (1-800-447-8477). You may also contact Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), report the decision to the FTC at ftc.gov/criticism, or file a criticism with the FCC online.  

The VERIFY team works to separate fact from fiction so you could understand what’s true and false. Please consider subscribing to our each day newsletter, text alerts and our YouTube channel. You may also follow us on Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. Learn More »

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