Medicare cards are dropping social security numbers

HARTFORD — Connecticut Better Business Bureau said new Medicare cards to be issued in the spring will help protect an estimated 57 million seniors enrolled in the plan from identity theft.

Existing Medicare cards contain recipients’ Social Security Number, a central element of identity theft. As of March, 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will begin issuing new Medicare cards for new and existing recipients. The SSN will be replaced with a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier, consisting of 11 uppercase letters and numerals.

“Medicare beneficiaries who carry their cards with them are at a higher risk of identity theft than the rest of the population, so this is a major game changer. They understand the security risk and have been very clear about their desire to have their Social Security Numbers removed from their cards,” said Connecticut Better Business spokesman Howard Schwartz. “The cards with the new MBI do not pose the risk of identity theft if they fall into the hands of the wrong person by theft or loss. The removal of the SSN is a helpful step in preventing the exposure of that important number.”

The Medicare card replacement initiative’s deadline is April, 2019. Upon receiving the new cards, beneficiaries are instructed to destroy their old ones.

Better Business Bureau warns that scammers may try to take advantage of the imminent changeover by posing as Medicare representatives.

The Federal Trade Commission offers tips to avoid Medicare scams:

  • Is someone calling, claiming to be from Medicare, and asking for your Social Security number or bank information? Hang up. That’s a scam. First, Medicare won’t call you. Second, Medicare will never ask for your Social Security number or bank information.
  • Is someone asking you to pay for your new card? That’s a scam. Your new Medicare card is free.
  • Is someone threatening to cancel your benefits if you don’t give up information or money? Also a scam. New Medicare cards will be mailed out to you automatically. There won’t be any changes to your benefits.

More details about the Medicare card replacement program will be publicized in an information campaign as the implementation date approaches.

In the meantime, you will find more information about the program here.