New Cards for Medicare Prompt Senior Scam Worries
DRACUT -- The new Medicare cards for local seniors and others throughout Massachusetts are being mailed out, but there’s still some concern about potential scams targeting them.
“All Massachusetts residents should be receiving their cards by the end of September,” said Lucilia Prates-Ramos, statewide director of the Massachusetts Senior Medicare Patrol Program, a statewide partnership between community-based organizations and mainstream agencies. “We want to make sure that people have the cards in their hands, destroy the old cards, and that they should protect their medical identity as well. That’s very important.”
The replacement Medicare cards are without the beneficiaries’ Social Security numbers to prevent identity theft. Instead, each Medicare beneficiary will receive their own unique Medicare number. Prates-Ramos urges anyone who has not received their new cards by the end of September to call 1-800-MEDICARE or visit www.medicare.gov/newcard . There will be no changes to benefits.
“I think people need to be very vigilant about looking out for their cards,” Prates-Ramos said. “That’s my message.”
According to a release by the Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, Inc., Medicare will not call beneficiaries to ask for personal information. Prates-Ramos urges any senior who receives such a call to hang up the phone.
Bethany Loveless, executive director of the Dracut Council on Aging, said some Dracut seniors have already begun receiving their new Medicare cards. She said the receipt of the new cards falls on the heels of open enrollment, the period in October when Medicare beneficiaries can make changes to their Medicare plans. Loveless expressed concern about the potential for a new wave of scams targeting seniors as a result.
“While seniors could be getting phone calls which are really attempts for scammers to get personal information, it is also that time of year that people try to disguise themselves as possible Medicare drug plans and supplemental plans and, again, they’re just trying to get information from the seniors,” Loveless explained. “They ask a couple questions, the seniors answer and, the next thing you know, somebody’s got their identity and information.”
Jean Bushnell, director of the Billerica Council on Aging, said she has not heard of any Billerica seniors receiving their new cards yet. The center’s staff members has been circulating an informational poster for seniors about the new cards.
“As an executive in aging services, my biggest concern is to help seniors who, to some degree are quite vulnerable, to help them protect their identity and personal data,” Bushnell added.
Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.