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Medicare card switch gives scammers a new hook

The Wisconsin Better Business Bureau is alerting the public to scammers targeting those who get Medicare.

Beginning in April 2018, Medicare will begin mailing new cards to everyone who gets Medicare benefits. In Wisconsin, cards will begin to be mailed out after June, according to a release from the BBB. Instead of having your Social Security Number on the card, the new cards will have a unique Medicare number. Cards will be mailed to the address you have on file with the Social Security Administration. This will happen automatically and you don’t need to do anything or pay anyone to get your new card.

While Medicare cards are undergoing this big change to make them more secure, scammers are (of course!) taking advantage of confusion around the launch.

Here's how the scam works.

You receive a call from a person claiming to work with Medicare. They are allegedly calling about the new Medicare cards, which will be mailed this spring. The cards will be more secure because they use a "Medicare Beneficiary Identifier" instead of a Social Security number.

The scammer claims that there's a problem with your card. The con artist may say your new card was lost or someone tried to use your ID number. To resolve the situation, the scammer just needs your Social Security number.

In another version, the scammer claims you must pay money to receive your new Medicare card. They may ask you for payment information, so they can "complete the process" for you. They may even ask you to mail them your old card.

The best way to avoid the scam is to know about it. Understand that Medicare isn't calling consumers about the card switch. Also, the new Medicare cards are being provided free of charge.

Never provide personal information to a stranger. Don't share personal details with anyone who calls you unsolicited. Do not confirm or give out your full name, address, Social Security number or any other personal information.

Learn about similar scams by reading this BBB tip: BBB.org/HealthCareScam. Read more about the new cards and their security benefits on Medicare.gov.

If you've fallen victim to this type of scam, you can help others avoid being scammed by filing a report BBB.org/ScamTracker.

For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at www.bbb.org/wisconsin or 1-800-273-1002. Consumers also can find more information about how to protect themselves from scams by following the Wisconsin BBB on TwitterFacebook and You Tube.