Medicare recipients in Hawai’i will be receiving their new cards in the mail this month and regulators are warning them to be on the lookout for fraud and scams.
The new red-white-and-blue Medicare Card will have 11 alpha numeric characters instead of a Social Security Number and will not be linked to an address. The Pacific Area Representative for Medicare Services…Tom Duran…says the new Medicare numbers are being issued to safeguard against fraud and identity theft.
“For the new Medicare card, the number is totally random. In fact, we’ve generated Medicare card number for every single Medicare beneficiary from when the program was started in the 1960s to present day. And part of the reason is so those numbers are completely random and the second one is so we never duplicate the numbers. So, once that number’s generated, it will never be used again.”
Duran says any recipient can contact Medicare to request a new number and card at any time, not only when lost or compromised. The cards will be made out of paper to save the government money but can also be printed at home using a color printer. But, Senior Medicare Patrol coordinator, Kaipolani Cullen, warns seniors to Guard their Card because swindlers are already on the prowl.
“They include callers identifying themselves as calling from Medicaid and asking Kupuna to verify their numbers or asking them to provide their old Medicare card number, which is their social security number, in order to have their new card mailed to them. Medicare will never call you. Not unsolicited. They will never call.”
Other scams ask for a fee to get a new card or invitations to dinner to get personal financial information. The new cards are being provided at no cost and will be mailed to all eligible Hawai’i enrollees, age 65 years or older, at their addresses of record. If the new card is not received by December enrollees should contact Medicare. State Attorney General, Russell Suzuki, emphasized that enrollees and family members of enrollees must be diligent.
“Unscrupulous people look to take advantage of seniors and will exploit their vulnerabilities, knowing that seniors may have a hard time saying ‘no’ or hanging up on the callers. Be cautious and report any suspicious scams or fraud immediately. Don’t feel embarrassed if you are a victim of identity theft. You’ll feel better if you do something about it and report it to keep it from happening to other people.”
There are181-thousand Medicare recipients on O’ahu and another 90-thousand on the neighbor islands, making up nearly 20 percent of the state’s population. Wayne Yoshioka, HPR News.