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In our March 19th Alert (see below), we reported how the Medicare system has begun issuing new identification cards to all Medicare beneficiaries, by mail, starting in April. The main purpose of the new cards – which will be mailed out over the course of a year – is to help protect against Identity Theft.  Medicare cards have long been based on Social Security Numbers; the new cards use a random set of numbers and letters unique to each individual, and their layout is different.

It should come as no surprise that scam artists and identity thieves have seen these mass mailings as a golden opportunity to try to steal beneficiaries’ money and identities.  Indeed, AARP, in its June Bulletin, reported that over 75% of beneficiaries surveyed know little or nothing about the new cards, and 60% think they may have to pay for them!  In fact, the cards are free; and neither Medicare, Social Security, or other agency representatives are calling beneficiaries at all, let alone requesting fees or personal information.  But scammers and identity thieves are making such calls (and, possibly, door-to-door visits).

SPREAD THE WORD!  Don’t agree to send money or personal information (including your address) to anyone who calls or visits regarding the new Medicare cards.

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March 2018:

ALERT: The NEW MEDICARE CARDS ARE COMING; starting in April for all people new to Medicare, starting later this summer for New Mexicans already receiving Medicare

In April 2015, tucked into a lengthy law affecting Medicare, was a requirement for the development of a new form of Medicare identification card. The main purpose was to help fight against identity theft, because the Medicare numbers on existing cards had always been based on Social Security Numbers (SSNs) – a prime target of identity thieves..
Now, the new cards have been designed, and they are about to be issued. Starting in April, everyone who becomes eligible for Medicare for the first time will get the new card. Also in April, the Medicare agency will begin issuing new cards to people already on Medicare, but that will happen in waves. New Mexico beneficiaries will begin receiving them starting in June, but the replacement process is expected to take until April 2019 to complete.
The layout of the new cards has changed somewhat – for example, gone are the two thin blue and red stripes across the top – but the cards will still contain the beneficiary’s name, and the month and year her/his Part A and B coverage started. The most important change of course is to the identification “numbers.” In place of the current eleven number SSN, the new cards will have a set of eleven randomized numbers and capital letters which are unique to each individual.
Even the official name of the card has been changed. It will be known as the “Medicare Beneficiary Identifier” (MBI), though few people are likely to use that term. Pictures and drawings of the new design have been shown by many media sources, and have been displayed in the federal Medicare Agency’s “Medicare & You” 2018 and 2019 booklets.

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