Phone scams are becoming more prevalent. Although they target just about everyone, seniors are an especially popular target. A new senior-focused scam involves Medicare cards. Here’s what you should know about this scam and some tips on protecting yourself from phone scams of all types.
Medicare Card Scams
New Medicare cards are being sent out between now and April of 2019. They contain a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) number rather than social security numbers, for better privacy. Scammers are using this release as an opportunity to scam seniors. They often call claiming to be from Medicare and asking for social security numbers, bank account numbers, and other personal information,…claiming it’s required to obtain the new cards or to prevent loss of coverage. You will never receive such a call from Medicare, so do not provide any personal information to callers.
Common Sense Approaches to Protecting Yourself from Phone Scams
Here’s what you can do to start protecting yourself from scams:
- Never give out your personal information (social security number, date of birth, etc.) to a caller.
- Never submit payment information to a random caller, regardless of where they claim to be calling from. This includes bank account numbers, credit card numbers, and/or other forms of payment such as gift cards.
Common Signs of a Phone Scam
- The call is unexpected.
- The caller asks for payment in the form of a gift card, prepaid debit card, etc.
- The caller uses scare tactics or threats, making it seem that if you don’t act immediately, you will go to jail, lose benefits, etc.
- The caller claims to be from some government organization (IRS, Medicare, etc.). The government does not make phone calls of this type; they would contact you via US Mail instead.
More Tips on Protecting Yourself From Phone Scams
The unfortunate reality is that any calls asking for money is likely to be a scam. This includes charities, tickets, lotteries, sweepstakes, product/service sales, and more. Relying on caller ID is no longer reliable either given that callers have the technology to alter that information. To be on the safe side, you should never provide any personal or financial information to callers. If you believe a call could be legitimate, hang up and call the company directly using the phone number from their website or from a recent account statement. This is the only way to ensure that you are speaking to the actual company in question. Protecting yourself from phone scams means being suspicious of all incoming calls and not giving out any information over the phone!