Prosecutor issues warning to seniors about Medicare phone scam

Carroll County Prosecuting Attorney Steven D. Barnett warns the county’s senior citizens to be aware of the potential for scam phone calls asking seniors for their Medicare card numbers.

The Prosecutor reminds seniors that if they are on Medicare, their Medicare card number is their Social Security Number. In many cases, criminals have attempted to get your Medicare number over the phone by creative means to use it to gain access to your financial accounts and steal your identity,” said Barnett.

U.S. Department of Justice statistics show that people over age 65 lost over $2.6 million in 2014 alone from these types of scams.

Barnett said there have been no referrals made to his office and that he is not aware of any current scams in the county regarding Medicare fraud. However, Barnett warns seniors to be vigilant and know that scammers have been known to target seniors by phone requesting their Medicare card numbers under false pretenses.

The scammer tells the unsuspecting senior that they want to verify a senior’s Medicare coverage by requesting their Medicare number. The scammer will often tell the senior that without the Medicare number there may be delays in medical treatment or that their benefits are in jeopardy.

The calls appear to be valid as coming from Medicare or a Washington, D.C. area code, but turn out to be phony and made from fake caller I.D.’s.

Barnett said Medicare representatives will never call you regarding your current or future Medicare numbers. “If you receive a call like this, you should hang up immediately. If you listen to any of their pitch, it might enhance your possibility of being taken in,” said the Prosecutor.

To better protect seniors from identify theft, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will be mailing new cards in April 2018 to meet congressional deadlines for replacing all Medicare cards by April 2019. New cards will be mailed and they will have a new account number that will no longer use a person’s social security number, the Prosecutor explained.

Those persons having questions should call the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at 1-800MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or to report fraud or abuse at 1-800-HHSTIPS (1-800-447-8477).

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