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Scammers up game as Medicare cards near expiration date

Desperate scammers sensing their window of opportunity is getting smaller have been turning up the heat on senior citizens.

New Medicare cards will be arriving in the mail the first week of June.

The new cards have a big change: The owner's Social Security number will not be printed on them. Instead, there will be a different random number and letter sequence on each card to help protect them from theft.

"The scammers are working overtime," Reliable Insurance agent Starr Marshall said. "The cards are automatically mailed out. There are no charges for the new cards."

She explained there has been an explosion of calls trying to convince senior citizens to give up their personal information. Scammers will claim their computer had a glitch and they lost the victim's information. Or, they might ask for the victim's Social Security number to verify it is the correct person before the card is mailed.

"No one will call you," Marshall stressed. "They already know who you are and where you live as they have been mailing your cards."

Sometimes a scammer says they need to pay a $25 processing fee before the government can mail the new card.

"Do not pay any fees," Marshall said.

Once in a while, a scammer will actually have someone's credit card number, but needs the three numbers on the back of the card. Again, do not give it to them.

Another popular scheme is to tell the victim they have a balance that needs to be paid off before the old card is sent — another lie.

If a scammer does call and try to get Medicare card information, report it by calling 800-447-8477.

The National Council on Aging has additional advice for seniors and the "grandchild in trouble" scam.

Pay attention to how the caller asks to have the money sent. If he or she will only accept money being wired, placed on a gift card or onto a cash reload card, it is a scam.

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