The retirement years: They’re the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The time we’re all looking forward to, when we can kick back, relax, let loose, and stop worrying. The last thing anybody expects is to arrive at that destination and then discover they’ve fallen victim to a scam or identity theft.
And yet, according to numbers reported by Experian (one of the three major credit reporting agencies), 35% of fraud complaints and 19% of identity theft reports come from Americans over 60 years old.
And there’s even more disturbing news. In the fall of 2017, Equifax—another credit agency—itself fell victim to a massive data breach. By the time the scope of the hacker intrusion had been revealed, the Federal Trade Commission reported that 143 million people’s names, social security numbers (SSNs), birth dates, addresses, credit card numbers and drivers’ licenses may have been snatched.
It’s enough to make a lot of us ask, “If multibillion-dollar companies can’t lock down their information, what hope do we have as individual citizens?” It’s a fair question, but there are steps we can all take to keep ourselves as safe as possible from thieves, scoundrels, and scammers.
How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft and Enjoy a Safe Retirement
Safety and security in the retirement years require making preparations for every aspect of life—physical, emotional, medical, and financial.
A proactive physical safety plan includes solutions like grab bars in the shower and a medical alert device for unexpected hazards. Likewise, a comprehensive approach to protection from Medicare fraud and identity theft includes a credit monitoring service that alerts you in real time if somebody is trying to open new accounts using your name or social security number.
Another arrow in the quiver is a robust password manager application. If you’re still keeping your passwords written down on a piece of paper next to your computer, in your head, or if they’re all versions of a significant family member’s name (or heaven forbid, “PASSWORD”), it’s time to upgrade. Such programs not only store all of your passwords in secure encrypted databases, they can generate highly complex new passwords for credit cards, bank accounts, health provider portals, and more. They also can update them on that much-touted quarterly schedule none of us ever adhere to! And most can synchronize the new passwords across every device you own instantly, whether that’s a Jitterbug Smartphone, laptop, or tablet. There are many options, and compared to the cost of recovering from identity theft and/or fraudulent accounts opened in your name, the annual fees associated with password managers are minuscule.
Medicare Fraud and Abuse
Medicare card identity theft has always been a significant source of Medicare fraud cases and identity theft; the new cards, which replace a prominently displayed (unmasked) social security number with a new, unique beneficiary identification number (BIN), are part of a new push by the government to help protect retirees from identity theft, and reduce the amount of Medicare fraud cases.
According to the fact-checking website Snopes, as early as February 2018, some people were receiving suspicious phone calls relating to the announcement of the new Medicare cards, specifically designed to protect beneficiaries. This unambiguous statement from Medicare.gov should help to put such scams to rest:
Medicare will never call you uninvited and ask you to give us personal or private information to get your new Medicare Number and card. Scam artists may try to get personal information (like your current Medicare Number) by contacting you about your new card. If someone asks you for your information, for money, or threatens to cancel your health benefits if you don’t share your personal information, hang up and call us at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
Potential scammers rely on our good manners and socialization to gain access to personal information and commit Medicare fraud and Medicare identity theft, but there are steps we can take to protect ourselves.
Tips for Medicare Fraud Prevention
- Protect your new Medicare beneficiary number as you would your social security number. Keep it confidential except when you are speaking with your doctors, insurers, family members or others whom you know and trust.
- Don’t share your personally identifying information (like your social security number, Medicare identification number, full name, date of birth, etc.) with anybody who has called you on the phone, via email, or in person unless you contacted them first.
- Consider adding yourself to the National Do Not Call registry if you do not already belong. This removes your phone number from lists that telemarketers may call with unsolicited offers. You may also report unwanted calls at this website.
- Use the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker to look up and report suspicious calls you may receive relating to Medicare fraud and identity theft.
The situations in which Medicare representatives may reach out to beneficiaries and ask for personal information are extremely limited. You can learn about them here.
Bottom line: In the age of technology, we have resources to help keep ourselves and our loved ones safe from unscrupulous people who may use the new Medicare cards as an identity theft opportunity. Vigilance and verification can help to reduce victimization during this transition period.
21 thoughts on “How Your New Medicare Card Will Help Protect Your Identity”
I think I made have given out my new number. I saw where Medicare was sending out kits that checked for cancer. I gave them the information they asked for. But never received my kit. What do I do now
Good for a laugh. Protect your new Medicare number like you would your social security number. You must be talking about the social security number that was on my old Medicare care for years and is probably already out in the world for all to see. Who was the genious who talked up putting the social security number on the medicare card in the first place.
Denise, I would contact Medicare immediately and tell them what happened. Perhaps they will cancel that number and issue you a new number and send new cards. I am very skeptical of any TV commercial or written ad that tells people Medicare will handle the things they sell. I would check with my primary care physician before ordering any kind of kit or medical equipment, as Medicare may require a prescription from your doctor before paying.
Most doctors offices, dentists, labs and hospitals require both numbers. Employees of these organizations have easy access to these numbers and are not as trustworthy as we would like to think.
The Do Not Call list is a joke!! My number has been on the list for quite a while and I even added it to the list again, thinking that might be necessary. Did not do one bit of good!!!! I get calls all the time, one just recently before 7 AM! Surely something should be done to stop these calls. I have repeatedly reported them, but they keep calling. Is there no one who ca stop this irritation. Both my husband and myself are over 80, and don’t need this aggravation. We don’t have caller ID so we never know who is calling.
I have been on the Do Not Call Registry for a very long time and it does not stop telemarketers or other scammers from calling.
My husband and I need a new Medicare card.How do we get one?
I have not received my new card, what should I do?
I’ve been on the do not call list and it does not work what is wrong with our government today they can stop all that if they really wanted to Paris and I are both sick doesn’t make any difference we have to we have to answer the phone and and it’s hard for us to get up especially off of a chair I’m sick of it .
Do not call list…how do I sign up
Last year I called Medicare six times because I was never sent a new Medicare card. I still have my old card with my Social Security number on the front. Even after six times and they swore they would send it they never did. Will they send me one this year? I don’t now and I have no idea how to get mine.
I agree with all the “no call” list complaints. I bought a phone system that allows me to block numbers. The TV shows the caller and number as well as the phone and the phone station. If I dont recognize the name, I hit the “block number ” button. Though some of these scammers use different numbers I get satisfaction in pushing the block call button. I use my cell for all calls, unless its someone I dont want to call me back. If you dont know my cell number I dont want to talk to you. Also land line is hooked to my fax so if it rings through they get the fax buzz.
Everyone who needs it already has your SS#. Only last the last 4 digits for a routine request. Medicare# maý be thoj new to do this right now.
I have been having fun answering unknown numbers by saying $&@@ County Sherrif’s Department, Fraud Department, how may I direct your call? You would not believe how quickly they hang up the phone.
I may have given out my new Medicare number on phone what do I do now
I have been on Medicare since before the “new” numbers were issued. Since receiving the new number NO ONE has asked me for it. Not the pharmacy, lab, x-ray, or even my physician. When I told my physician’s office I have my new number, they said, “We don’t need it; we use your Social Security number that’s already in our files.” So, what good is it? How am I “protected?”
Those of you who do not have caller I’d, you really do need to get it. Most landline or cable phone providers offer it. It’s absolutely essential today. I am severely disabled and remember with horror all of the scam calls I got, some as early as 5am.
Join aarp, they have great guidelines. Signup for their online newsletter. Hope this helps.
I am on the Do Not Call list and get multiple scam calls daily on my landline,some as early as 7:30am. I have reported recurring ones to FCC and that has helped. What I do now is forward all my landline calls to my cellphone when I go to bed,and turn off the cell ph ringer. Of course you need call forwarding on your landline but it’s worth it to not be woken up out of a deep sleep for a robocall about reducing your crcd debt.
The “do not call list” is a farce!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
When going to Dr. offices, they always want to scan your ID into their computer system. NEVER let them. That is a sure fire way to Identity Theft… Driver License number! I do not even let them handle it. I say, “I am holding it next to my face, so you can see it is mine. You cannot scan it into your system. I want to avoid identiy theft. No system is secure enough to prevent that.” I carry a photo of me if they insist on having a photo to scan….it does include my dog. But I adamantly refuse. When they ask for DL or SSN, I tell them I do not provide that information. I need to protect my privacy.
I am also on the do not call list, but get calls once in a while. So I just ask if they are aware of it. Some times they say they will add my number to their d n c list.
One of the problems is that some of these callers are
not located in the US, and have never heard of it. So
they just call the numbers they are given by whoever
is paying them. It is an ongoing problem that we can’t
do much about unless you want to report them to FCC.