This call has been coming to so many individuals in our area. I can confidently say NO, the caller is not from Medicare and you are NOT getting a new plastic (or metal) Medicare card. These types of calls are probably from an individual trying to gain access to your Medicare ID number.

I have talked with many individuals who have been on Medicare for years and also those who are new to Medicare, and this call is happening to both groups. The person on the phone usually tells you that the new card will have a chip in it, which will protect you from fraud, like your credit cards. Yet this call is exactly that, FRAUD!

They will ask you to verify your Medicare ID #, so you give them the number and they repeat it back to you or say okay. Then they even may go as far as to talk to you about when you will receive this new Medicare ID card. Yet the card will not arrive!

It is important to remember, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) very rarely call individuals directly. If they do call you directly, is it because you called to report a problem, file a grievance or something similar. CMS staff will not call an individual unsolicited. CMS will mail you information, like your Medicare Card, the Medicare & You handbook and Medicare Summary Notices (MSN). You will get a quarterly bill from CMS for your Medicare Part B premium if you are not collecting Social Security Benefits. These calls often say they “are calling regarding your Medicare coverage”, or “calling on behalf of Medicare”. This call is NOT coming from CMS or anyone who has your best interest in mind.

I have talked in previous articles about individuals reporting that during the year they hear from their current insurance company via the phone to talk about “additional benefits” they may be eligible for. This usually is a situation in which the current insurance company also owns other types of insurance products. For instance you have Medicare with a Medicare Supplement Plan and a separate Prescription Drug Plan. Each of those products are through an insurance company, who may have other products they would like you to know about and potentially enroll into. The second type of call is about switching the insurance coverage you have. It is very important to understand that this type of change of coverage has many factors to consider, most importantly; Are your doctors, labs, and hospitals in the network of providers, and are your medications covered at the pharmacy you use?

When you get that phone call about your Medicare coverage, or someone saying they are calling on behalf of Medicare, my advice is to hang up immediately. If they ask you to verify your name, ask who is calling. When they ask “Hello is this Janell Sluga?” Do NOT answer with “yes who is calling?” Don’t use the affirmative in any way. Simply say “Who is calling?” That individual calling is probably not someone from our local area and may not be asking you enough questions to provide you with enough information to make an informed decision.

If you have gotten one of these call already and have given out your Medicare #, please call CMS at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-42273). I know that is too many numbers but it works. The nice feature of the new Medicare ID numbers is that they are randomly assigned and if your ID number is compromised a new one can be issued.

If you need help, reach out to Senior Life Matters, The Office For the Aging, or the insurance broker you have used in the past. It is important to act quickly to prevent fraudulent billing to Medicare.