What’s an MBI? In an effort to reduce identity theft, the Social Security Administration will be issuing new Medicare cards that will not have our Social Security numbers on them. Instead, they will have a randomly generated Medicare Beneficiary Identifier or MBI number. Cards will be mailed between April 2018 and April 2019.
No doubt, the scammers will be trying new ways to cash in on this change. Here are a few tips from the Scambusters,org newsletter to help you avoid them:
- Medicare won’t phone or email you about the new card, so if you get a call, it’s almost certainly a scam. On the rare occasions that they make customer service calls, they never ask for confidential information.
- The cards are free, so anyone asking you to pay is a scammer.
- Medicare never asks for your Social Security number and, when the new cards are issued, they won’t be asking you for your MBI either. They already have it!
- There won’t be any changes to your Medicare benefits as a result of issuing the new number and you don’t have to do anything to “activate” your new card. Anyone saying you need to take certain actions to remain covered is a scammer.
- Watch out for fake websites offering to issue new cards or help you secure your card. As we said, you don’t need to apply. But if you want to check any Medicare questions online, the only site to use is www.cms.gov
- Be particularly alert if you’re not yet in Medicare but expect to enroll during the interim period. When you submit your application, it’s possible Medicare will contact you but they normally do this by letter. If someone phones, carefully check their identity — don’t take their word that they’re who they say they are.
- The cards can be used as soon as you get yours — it will come with instructions. However, it’s not clear whether all Medicare service providers will be equipped to use the MBI at the outset. They may ask you for your old, SSN-based number — but usually only in the payment office.
For more information, see the CMS website at: https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/New-Medicare-Card/index.html