PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - The federal government is warning of a potential scam involving new Medicare cards.
Medicare is in the process of mailing new cards to every person who receives Medicare benefits. The new cards do not have replace Social Security numbers with unique Medicare numbers, an important measure to help protect identities.
The cards are free and will be mailed automatically, but the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says scammers may try to trick consumers into handing over social security numbers or money while waiting on the new card.
"It's easier to prey on the elderly," said Martha Crippen from the Rhode Island Attorney General's Consumer Protection Unit. "You don't have to do anything. If someone calls you trying to get your Social Security number or your bank information to pay for that card, that's a scam."
According to the FTC, the cards are being mailed in waves. Rhode Island and Massachusetts residents will begin receiving their new Medicare cards in July at the earliest.
Once a consumer receives his or her new card in the mail, the old one should be shredded. The new Medicare card should be kept in a secure place.
"Guard that card as you do a credit card or any other type of important information because people could use that to obtain medical services using your information," Crippen said.
All new Medicare cards nationwide will be mailed by April 2019.