UNITED STATES—Toni, I am concerned about a phone call I received yesterday from a representative with Medicare asking all types of personal questions and informing me that there is a new plastic Medicare card with a chip like a credit card. I told the caller what you said during your online Medicare webinar about not giving personal information over the phone.

I’m stressed that I could have made a mistake and that I have missed the new Medicare card. What should I do or who I should call to see if Medicare is trying to contact me? Sometimes it is hard to know what’s the right thing to do when it involves Medicare. Deidre from Oklahoma City, OK.

Hello Deidre: Don’t stress yourself out because there is NOT a new plastic Medicare card with a chip being issued! This is a Medicare scam that is targeting America’s Medicare population. Your Medicare card is still the same card you currently have.

Medicare and Social Security will NEVER call your home or office and ask for your personal or banking information. Medicare already has all the information needed to verify they are speaking with you. If the government needs information from you, a letter would be sent from the specific government agency (such as Medicare), telling you what information is needed, and how to contact them with any questions.

The most recent Medicare card update was in April 2019 to include a random identification number of numbers and letters. It no longer displays a Social Security number.

Taxpayers are losing over $100 billion a year to Medicare and Medicaid fraud according to estimates from the National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association. Fraud hurts Americans because when thieves steal from Medicare and Medicaid, there is less money available for health care claims.

There is an organization called Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) that helps those on Medicare learn how to detect fraud and abuse. To report Medicare fraud or abuse call the nationwide SMP toll-free number 877-808-2468 or visit the SMP website at www.smpresource.org to locate the closest SMP office in your state.

The SMP website discusses common Medicare Fraud Schemes such as telemedicine, genetic testing, hospice, Medicare card scams, and the list goes on.

Here are a few tips to help protect you against Medicare fraud:

  • Have a safety script by the phone and do not give out personal information to anyone who calls. Stick to the script no matter what! (Have someone help you write your script.)
  • Never give your Medicare or Social Security number to strangers who call you on the phone or come to your door. Just like you tell your grandkids not to talk to strangers, you need not talk to them either. Play the “Stranger Danger” game.
  • Do NOT accept “free” offers in exchange for your Medicare number. Remember, there is nothing “free.” The fraudsters will have Medicare pay for whatever they are offering, and the fraudster will use your Medicare number to get it paid for!

The Toni Says team members are instructed never to write down a client’s Medicare number in our file and we instruct clients never to email us any sensitive information such as Social Security numbers or a picture of their new Medicare card.

Medicare/Medicaid fraud is exploding and the only way to stop this fraud is to let your friends know what I have just told you. We need to stand together and stop those who only want to make a “fast dollar” from Medicare and Medicaid and, most especially, from YOU!

Remember, with Medicare it’s what you don’t know that WILL hurt you! If you have a Medicare question, email info@tonisays.com or call 832-519-8664. Toni’s new Confused about Medicare” video series is available at www.tonisays.com.