Boston – As a major federal government initiative is underway to issue new identification cards to the 1,289,320 Medicare beneficiaries in Massachusetts and nationwide, an AARP survey finds that a majority of those enrollees are at risk of being victimized by fraud schemes designed to capitalize on the card replacement program.
In response, AARP Massachusetts is participating in an education campaign to raise awareness among consumers about Medicare Card scams.
The year-long national effort to mail new ID cards to 58 million Medicare recipients began in May. The redesigned cards no longer contain enrollees’ Social Security numbers – a move designed to enhance security and help protect against identity theft. Consumer advocates, including AARP, welcome the development but, ironically, the card replacement program has opened these new opportunities for con artists:
Results of the AARP survey, which polled Medicare enrollees age 65 and older, indicate a significant number of people could end up as victims of the scams. Among the key findings:
“The new Medicare cards are a step forward for fraud prevention, but con artists are working overtime on new ways to scam seniors,” said Mike Festa, AARP Massachusetts State Director. “That’s why AARP Massachusetts is joining with the Fraud Watch Network to ramp up efforts to educate Medicare beneficiaries about the new cards and potential scams.”
The AARP education campaign includes social media text and video postings, website content, and articles in recent editions of the AARP Bulletin. AARP Massachusetts and other AARP state offices are distributing a handout that details the new card rollout and associated scams.
The AARP Fraud Watch Network launched in 2013 as a free resource for people of all ages. Consumers may sign up for “Watchdog Alert” emails that deliver information about scams, or call a free helpline at 877-908-3360 to speak with volunteers trained in fraud counseling. The Fraud Watch Network website provides information about fraud and scams, prevention tips from experts, an interactive scam-tracking map, fun educational quizzes, and video presentations featuring Fraud Watch Network Ambassador Frank Abagnale.
Abagnale, the renowned fraud expert whose personal story was depicted in the hit movie “Catch Me If You Can,” is also host of a new AARP weekly podcast series, “The Perfect Scam,” that launched earlier this year.
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In March 2018, AARP engaged Alan Newman Research to conduct a national research study among U.S. adults ages 65 and older about their experience and knowledge around the new Medicare cards and potential vulnerability to scams related to the new card and benefits. A total of 800 telephone interviews (560 via landline telephones and 240 via cell phone) were completed between March 12 and March 19, 2018. Survey length averaged 10 minutes. The total sample of 800 respondents yields a maximum sampling error of ±3.5% at the 95% level of confidence. See the research report for additional information.
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