This is a follow up to my first Fraud Alert article, published on March 13. My wife and I both continue to receive phone calls from someone claiming to be from some organization like “The Medicare Advisory Group” asking if we have received our new Medicare Card within the last two weeks, or some such question.
Of course, as noted before, if you continue a conversation with these people, they already have your name, address, and date of birth. They will also inform you that they are not trying to sell you anything. They claim they are just working with Medicare to be certain you have received your new Medicare card.
If you allow the conversation to continue, he or she may then ask you who is your regular physician, and then that person will likely ask you to confirm you current Medicare card number – the one that is expiring soon – to insure he or she is speaking with the correct person. Of course, as noted before, doing so then allows those perpetrating the fraud to cheat the government by billing Medicare for unneeded durable medical equipment or medicines or procedures such as doctor visits. You will never know because you will never receive another card nor any of the equipment they order since it will be sent to them to resell.
Remember, never give out nor confirm any personal information to some unknown person that calls you, no matter how sincere or reasonable they may sound. Scammers succeed by sounding very sincere and making you feel at ease regarding their requests.
To ensure that what I am writing in these Fraud Alerts is accurate, I have begun sending “proof copies” to several people including my independent Medicare Insurance Agent and the Ohio Senior Medicare Patrol for review and comment. My insurance agent noted with respect to the first article that I should have noted that one’s Medicare card never expires! It is a permanent number.
While that is true, I pointed out that some confusion regarding this may have come about because Medicare actually did change everyone’s Medicare number and card a couple of years ago. In 2018-2019, everyone who was on Medicare at that time had their Medicare number changed from what was their Social Security number, usually with a “T” or some letter added at the end of the number, to a unique permanent number. As the person from the Ohio Senior Medicare Patrol noted, the only way your Medicare number can change is if you request a change for some reason, such as your number has been compromised. If that is the case, you can contact the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) to assist you. There is an SMP in every state, established several years ago by the federal government. They are there specifically to educate and help seniors with respect to Medicare fraud. In Ohio, you can call them at 1-800-488-6070 or reach out to their website at: https://www.proseniors.org/contact-ohio-smp-form/.
So, why did Medicare change everyone’s number a couple of years ago? It has to do with the original Social Security Act of 1935. In that Act, to help allay the fears of many religious groups that this was the beginning of the mark of the beast from Revelation, it was specified that the number would never be used for anything other than Social Security.
Well, you can see how well that worked out long term.
Remember not too long ago when it was required to be placed on your driver’s license, as well as associated with your bank accounts, credit cards, etc.? In some cases, various organizations still improperly and illegally use your Social Security number as an identifier. However, it was removed from your driver’s license and other uses because of those who refused to allow their number to be used for anything other than Social Security, in accord with the original Act.
Of course, the Federal Government was its own worst enemy with respect to improperly employing one’s Social Security number as an identifier. I remember when I first entered the Air Force in 1967, I was given a unique Air Force number, one which I can still remember. Approximately two years later, my Air Force number was changed to my Social Security number. After that, the number began to be used on driver’s licenses and other forms – government and private companies. This continued for years.
My son, who recently retired from the Air Force, noted that his Air Force number was changed just before he retired from his Social Security number to a unique Air Force identifier number. This is around the same time all of the Medicare numbers were updated from one’s Social Security number to a unique identifier.
From what I understand, Medicare at one point refused to reissue cards with unique identifier numbers, claiming the process would be too cumbersome. However, they finally capitulated a couple of years ago, resulting in the confusion which has allowed the scammers to make people believe their Medicare number was going to be changed on some sort of regular basis.
Be assured, according to those directly involved in the process such as SMP and my insurance agent who specializes exclusively in Medicare insurance, that your current Medicare number is permanent, never to change as long as you live, unless you request a change because your number has been compromised in some way.