Medicare recently announced that they will be issuing new cards to replace the old ones, beginning in April of 2018. Yes, that’s almost a year away, but the switch is taking some time for one important reason: Your Social Security number will no longer be used as your identification number. Instead, you will be issued a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI), and you Social Security number will not be displayed on your card or used to identify you at your doctor’s office.
Medicare fraud is on the rise. So, why the big change? The Medicare agency has received numerous reports of fraud, linked to beneficiaries’ Social Security numbers. If you lose your card, for example, a con artist has everything they need to commit identity theft. Hackers are also increasingly targeting medical provider systems, knowing that Social Security numbers are used as identifiers within medical records.
Once a thief obtains your Social Security number, he or she can apply for credit cards in your name, sign a contract with a cell phone company, and even get a driver’s license or passport. It’s simply a bad idea to use your Social Security number in so many different places, where it can easily be stolen, and Medicare recognizes this fact.
Stay on guard against fraud. It will take some time for the Medicare system to switch over from Social Security numbers to MBIs, and then they will begin sending new cards. It is important to know that you don’t need to do anything in order to receive your new Medicare card. The process is automated, and you will be moved into the new system without having to do anything else.
If anyone calls you, claiming to need information in order to process your new Medicare card, hang up the phone immediately. The same goes for emails; delete the email and do no reply! No matter how official a call or email appears to be, it’s a scam. Medicare already has all of the information they need, and they will not contact you about your new card. If you receive a call or email asking for information such as your Social Security number, this is just a con artist attempting to take advantage of the coming changes.
Finally, rest assured that your benefits won’t be interrupted. You will receive your new Medicare card in the mail, sometime before April of 2019. Until then, keep using your old card. Just remember to keep it safe, so that thieves can’t access your Social Security number.