Be alert for Medicare scams

The Maui News

AARP is warning Medicare recipients about possible scams related to new identification cards being issued by the federal government.

A free webinar about Medicare cards and fraud schemes will be presented today by AARP and the Federal Trade Commission. People can register at www.aarp.org/Fraud Webinar.

The 264,864 Medicare enrollees in Hawaii will be among the first to receive the redesigned ID cards in the mail next month, according to an AARP Hawaii announcement. The new cards no longer contain Social Security numbers.

AARP is warning about scams including:

• Callers posing as Medicare representatives and demanding immediate payment by credit card of a processing fee for the new ID card. No such fee exists.

• Callers falsely saying that Medicare needs to verify a recipient’s Social Security number or other personal identification before issuing the card. Medicare says it doesn’t make such calls.

• Callers telling beneficiaries that they are due a refund on transactions with their old cards and asking for bank account information to process the refund.

“The new Medicare cards are a step forward for fraud prevention, but con artists are working overtime on new ways to scam seniors,” said Barbara Kim Stanton, AARP Hawaii state director.

People can sign up for “watchdog alert” emails providing information about scams through the AARP Fraud Watch Network. People also can speak with volunteers trained in fraud counseling by calling a free helpline at (877) 908-3360.

More information is available at www.aarp.org.