SUMMERVILLE, SC (WCSC) - Medicare is taking steps to prevent fraud and fight identity theft for its members by sending out new cards. Those cards have opened the door to new scams.
Earlier this year, Medicare started making changes to member cards. In the past, those Medicare cards have included the member's social security number. The new cards include a new, unique combination of numbers and letters instead.
This summer, Medicare started mailing new member cards to a few states at a time. Those new cards are now being shipped to South Carolina and scammers are trying to advantage before time runs out.
Dot Cone of Summerville is one of 59 million Americans on Medicare who is expecting a new card. She got a disturbing phone call from a man claiming to be an agent from Medicare. The caller said he needed some information before her new Medicare card could be sent.
"I thought, this not right, but I kind of listened to him," Cone said.
After confirming some personal information, the caller asked for her Medicare card number. That number is also her social security number.
"Well I don't give that out normally to anybody, especially anybody over the phone," Cone said.
She said the caller was very persistent and told her she wouldn't get her new Medicare card if she didn't give him the number. Believing the call was a scam, Cone eventually hung up the phone.
Doris Gleason, a Community Outreach Director with AARP says scammers are taking advantage of people who may not be aware or up-to-date on the card change.
"A lot of people never received information that new cards were going to be rolled out, so it's catching a lot of people by surprise," Gleason said.
Medicare has a scam warning on its website, explaining that Medicare will never call and ask for personal or private information in order to send out the new member cards. You can also sign up online to be notified when your new Medicare card is in the mail.
If you get a call about the new Medicare card and the caller asks for information, money, or threatens to cancel your health benefits you should hang up and call Medicare at 1-800-633-4227.
If you have a scam story to share, email Kyle Jordan at Scams@live5news.com.