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Protect yourself! Sneaky Medicare scams are on the rise

Protect yourself! Sneaky Medicare scams are on the rise
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If you're on Medicare, beware of being scammed by robocallers. They are trying to trick you into giving them sensitive personal information.

The scams have been on the rise since Medicare began changing how it IDs recipients. The change has left Medicare users more vulnerable to robocall scams.

We'll explain the Medicare changes along with how the scammers are operating. We also have tips on protecting yourself and your information.

FCC issues alert on Medicare scams

In an effort to combat identity theft, last year Medicare began issuing cards that use Medicare Beneficiary Identifier numbers. The identifiers replace cardholders' Social Security numbers.

The transition is set to be completed by December and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is alerting consumers during this period of change to be on the lookout for robocall scams. The scammers are trying to steal the new Medicare card numbers and more.

Identity thieves are using spoofed caller ID numbers that appear to be coming from a government agency or a health provider. If you recognize the caller ID, you're more likely to answer your phone.

Here's what to watch for. The FCC warns if a caller claims that in order to activate your new card they need you to confirm the number, it's a scam.

Another scammer might tell you that your new Medicare card has an error and needs to be replaced or that you were sent an old paper version of the card instead of the new plastic versions.

The FCC reminds Medicare recipients that:

  • Medicare will never call you uninvited and ask for personal or private information.
  • You will usually get a written statement in the mail before you get a phone call from a government agency.
  • Calls requesting health insurance information should not be trusted.
  • There are no "plastic" Medicare cards.

Medicare robocall scams are the latest to try to trick people into giving up sensitive information. Last year, scams from people claiming to be from the Social Security Administration began proliferating.

 

Related: Protect your phone number! How cheap technology spreads the robocall plague

 

How to avoid the Medicare scam

To foil scammers, the FCC offers these tips to help you recognize a scam:

  • Don't answer calls from unknown numbers.
  • Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother's maiden names, passwords or any other self-identifying information.
  • If you are being pressured to provide your information immediately after you answer the call proceed with caution.
  • If a caller claims to represent a health insurance provider or a government agency, hang up. Call back using a phone number on an account statement or on an official website to verify whether the call is authentic.

Also getting into the battle to stop robocalls are the four major wireless carriers in partnership with the attorneys general of all 50 states plus the District of Columbia.

Under a new deal, one part of the agreement calls for mobile carriers to integrate call-blocking and call labeling technology into a dozen phone networks' existing infrastructure at no cost to consumers.

The phone carriers also agreed to begin implementing STIR/SHAKEN technology that would authenticate phone numbers through a digital signature. Carriers currently are working on getting STIR/SHAKEN to work across all mobile carriers' networks.

To avoid robocalls altogether, Komando.com has developed this complete guide to stopping robocalls.

Sick of spoofed robocalls? The FCC is ready to take the fight overseas

The number of international spoofed robocalls targeting Americans is increasing. Now, a federal agency is finally ready to take on international scammers.

Click or tap here to read more on how the government is taking on international robocall scams.

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