BOSTON (CBS) – Almost everyone over 65 has Medicare as their primary insurance.  And your Medicare card uses your Social Security number for identification. This makes it so easy to steal an identity of a senior. This has been a problem for years.

Last year Congress finally passed a law that should help. Social Security numbers must not be displayed, coded or embedded on the Medicare card any longer. There is money in 2016 budget to start the project that will take years to accomplish. By the year 2025 Medicare will have 74 million enrollees.

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Medicare scams occur all year long but during the open enrollment period, which started October 15 and runs through December 7, they occur more often. During open enrollment Medicare beneficiaries can make changes to their 2017 Medi-gap health plans and their part D prescription coverage.

Identity thieves are always looking for the opportune time to pounce. Medicare recipients are being bombarded with TV ads, letters, postcards and e-mails from health insurers explaining why they have the superior product.  Already on overload from all of this information a senior may be vulnerable.

According to the AARP, the most common scheme is that the scammer will pose as a Federal employee from Medicare or another government agency. They claim that new Medicare cards are being issued. To get the new card, they will need the senior to verify or update sensitive information, including their Medicare number, which is also their Social Security number.

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Warn the seniors in your life. Medicare will never call you and ask you for your personal information, such as your Medicare number, over the phone. And Medicare will not email you or knock on your door unannounced asking for data that it already has.

If your card is lost or stolen, you can replace your Medicare card in one of the following ways:

  • Log into your gov account & request a replacement Medicare card online
  • Call Social Security (SSA) at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY: 1-800-325-0778)
  • Visit your local SSA office.

 

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One more thing: Take your Medicare card (which is paper) to Staples and have them laminate it for you. Cost around $1. Do not leave it there, wait for it.