Attorney General Becerra Announces New Effort to Protect Seniors from Identity Theft and Fraud

Attorney General Becerra Announces New Effort to Protect Seniors from Identity Theft and Fraud


want to say thank you to everyone who’s
here is certainly I want to pass my greetings on to all the seniors who have
made st. Barnabas one of the best places in Los Angeles to come to on an everyday
basis and to all the staff from st. Barnabas can we give the staff at st.
Barnabas a round of applause for the work that they do for all of us so we’re
gonna be making a couple of important announcements today but I want to let
the person who on the west coast is so responsible for the announcement that
we’re making today to help you and other seniors and those who receive Medicare
make sure that you are protected and so without further ado let me introduce
Greg dill who is a California Regional Administrator for the US Centers for
Medicare and Medicaid Services great good morning everyone as the Attorney
General said I’m Greg dill I’m the Regional Administrator for the Centers
for Medicare and Medicaid Services I represent CMS region 9 which is based
in San Francisco and includes California I want to thank you again for all coming
and listening to this important information that I’ll be sharing we’re
here to announce that new Medicare cards will be mailed to Californians with
Medicare beginning this month in April in California about 5.7 million
beneficiaries will receive a new Medicare card and that includes about
1.5 million beneficiaries right here in LA County the new Medicare cards will be
different from the old cards because they won’t have the Social Security
number on them anymore Social Security numbers are being removed from Medicare
cards to prevent identity theft and to stop scam artists from using Medicare
benefits illegally Social Security numbers will be replaced by randomly
assigned numbers that are unique to each individual when you get your new
Medicare card in the mail you’ll also get instructions about how to use it you
don’t need to worry about your Medicare benefits changing they are not changing
in any way as a respective receiving this new card since the new Medicare
cards will be mailed to you we need you to make sure with Social Security
Administration that they have your correct mailing address you should do
that as soon as possible the easiest way to do that to verify your address is by
creating a social security account or by logging into your existing account
and that web address is ssa.gov forward slash my account now I recognize not
everyone wants to go on the internet so we have also made it available that you
can call the Social Security Administration and verify your address
that number is ministration and verify your address
that’s one eight hundred seven seventy two one two one three
now if the Social Security Administration already has your current
mailing address you don’t need to do anything else to receive your new
Medicare card you can start using your new Medicare card as soon as you get it
when you need when you need care take your new Medicare card and show it to
your doctor or other health care provider and to that end doctors
pharmacists health care plans they know the numeric Medicare cards are coming
providers and health care facilities will ask you for your new Medicare card
when you need care if you forget your new card you or your doctor or other
health care providers may be able to look it up online so there’s an easy way
to get that number should you need it now I’ve talked a lot about verifying
your address and receiving these new cards and actions that you need to take
but you’re probably curious what do these new cards look like well I happen
to have one with me so you can see they look the same as before the red white
and blue but there are some unique changes now on these new Medicare cards
you can see the mitt the name of the beneficiary will remain but as I’ve said
we’ve removed the Social Security number and there is a new unique 11 digit
number that’s again to each individual that will appear along with when you are
eligible for Medicare those are the elements of the new Medicare card and it
is still red white and blue just as the old one was as I’ve stated this is what
they look like and they will similarly be paper so they will not be plastic
that is a very common question I get they will be paper cards because that’s
easy for health care providers to use and copy and if you lose it and need a
replacement card you’re able to print out a new one on your own lastly if you are in a Medicare
Advantage health plan we know there’s a very popular here in
California as well here in Los Angeles County you too will be receiving a new
Medicare card in addition to that Health Plan card that you’ve likely already
received the primary identification ID card that you’ll need to receive care
will be that medicare advantage card however some providers require both so
we advise beneficiaries to bring both the new card and your Medicare Advantage
health care card to your providers so again I want to thank you for coming and
I’ll just summarize this a these new cards are on the way look for them in
the mail and then protect that information so thank you and at this
time I’ll turn it over to the attorney Jeremy administrator dill thank you very
much for that information I will say some words I want to make another
announcement on top of the information that administrator dill has also
provided you and then I’m going to make sure that we give Rico Saab audio who is
the CEO and president of st. Barnabas here senior services an opportunity to
say some words and I’d like to make sure that Sarah Barnard also has an
opportunity to give some words because she is one of our champions when it
comes to providing services to seniors and to those who receive Medicare and
making sure that you have your rights protected under Medicare because she is
a senior Medicare Patrol representative and they are a very important
organization for our seniors here in Los Angeles I wanted to thank administrator
dill and our federal partners from the Centers for Medicaid Medicare and
Medicaid Services CMS for taking this important step to protect our seniors
and people with disabilities who rely on Medicare I’m proudest down stand with
administrator dill today to help him get the word out to all of our seniors
throughout California and certainly throughout our country about keeping our
in information that’s private to us safe
protecting Medicare and Social Security has been part of my job for a long time
first as a member of Congress who represented st. Barnabas and many of you
here today while I was a representative for the 34th congressional district and
I was a member of the Ways and Means Committee which has jurisdiction over
Medicare and now of course I try to do what I can to protect you as the
Attorney General for our state this has been a priority for me for a long time
because it’s about protecting the benefits that you have earned as seniors
after a lifetime of hard work and sacrifice you are owed a secure and
dignified retirement it should be within reach of anyone who has worked hard and
paid into Social Security and has earned Medicare it should not be stolen from
you by unscrupulous individuals back in Congress I co-sponsored bipartisan
legislation to prohibit the printing of Social Security numbers on Medicare
cards that way we would help crack down on the identity theft that goes on by
those who try to get your Medicare information now today as your attorney
general I have some new tools to protect seniors and people with disabilities
from scammers and those who commit fraud my team at the California Department of
Justice goes after those who prey on most of those folks who are vulnerable
in California to those who are trying to take advantage of the benefits that you
have earned ripping off hard-working families is not tolerated in the state
of California we also work in the Department of Justice to educate
Californians about how to protect themselves from these common thieves and
scammers today the California Department of Justice is releasing a consumer alert
for Californians with tips to keep your social security
number and Medicare information safe it’s important to remember that your
social security number is much more than what it was a while back when we first
started Social Security it was simply meant as a number to help you track your
own social security contributions and your future benefits but it’s become
much more than that over time it’s a way for the government
to track your earnings yes and to pay you your benefits but it’s also a key
that unlocks your sensitive personal information including your financial
medical and your professional records if identity thieves get a hold of your name
and your social security number they can open new credit and bank accounts in
your name steal your medical identity or even take control of your social
security account we recommend that seniors keep their documents secure that
you be aware of medical identity theft and that you ask questions when there
are asked I’m sorry that you ask questions about anyone who would ask you
a question about your social security number you do not want to answer
questions of people who ask you for your social security number period you must
know and be certain that you know who is asking you for what information taking
these measures to protect yourself is especially critical at a time like this
unscrupulous con artists are known to take advantage of new Medicare programs
when they roll out and that’s what we have today if you or your family member
ever suspects medical identity theft or fraud remember you can call Medicare
directly on a toll-free number that number is Medicare M EDI CA ar e or if there’s
medical fraud for those of you who receive medical which is Medicaid in
California you can call the hotline number which is toll-free as well at one
eight hundred eight to two six two to two
you have the power to protect yourselves and the benefits you have earned as well
keep those scammers away at the California Department of Justice we
intend to do everything to help you protect yourself and your benefits will
do everything to have your back now let me ask the CEO and president of st.
Barnabas Senior Services Drigo some audio to say some words good morning everyone it’s a pleasure to
be here today and are very proud to be partnering with the Attorney General of
California Xavier Becerra I would like to welcome you back home sir it’s a
pleasure to have you with us today this important event along with our partners
with you know Greg dill with CMS and Sarah with the senior Medicare
Protection Agency to help inform and educate you on what’s going on with the
changes in the Medicare card st. Barnabus Senior Services is an
organization that’s been around for over a hundred years our mission is to
empower a diverse community of older adults so they can live well feel well
and age well in the community with dignity and respect and part of that
empowerment is to assure that you are your identity is safe and it is well
kept so that your identity is not abused in a way that impacts your financial
well-being and it’s hard enough in terms of being an older adult and particularly
the older adults that we serve in our community to manage the day-to-day
responsibilities and trying to afford housing and trying to pay for your
medication and trying to get yourself around and mobility when you’re already
dealing with all that you beat you’re a very vulnerable community and that’s
what we’ve experienced here at st. Barnabas so this information this change
is very timely what we’ve experienced here in this issue of fraud ID you know
and identity theft is very common among the communities that we serve I was
talking to my colleagues and sharing stories about what some of these
situations have occurred here one you know incident one of our seniors and
this is an incident that occurred but it’s it’s occurred many times over on
the numbers that we serve was approached and said by the way you know are you how
are you paying high rates for your insurance and they said well
yes and you know so you could do better and you could get more for less so
anyway they got talked into you know open in having a conversation about
possibly getting a new healthy health plan and they said but I need your
California ID and I need your Medicare card so when they showed the California
ID in the Medicare card the old card had the social security number so now you
have the full name the date of birth and the social security number well they
took that information said well come back to you well they never heard from
this person but they did hear in the mail a little bit later that somebody
had bought a car on their name in Arizona and now they’re coming back to
us and working with our social case managers and trying to figure out what
to do about this because now there’s a car an expense and under their name
there is another similar situation where they did similar tactic and they ended
up buying a home in Oklahoma so this is happening often and in the one other
situation that we like to share is that you know there was a local clinic and
there was you know trying to bring clients to their clinic and so they had
an outreach person get out there and basically that outreach person their job
was to convince our older adults to come to their services to their clinic
because they will have a wonderful experience sure they had a wonderful
experience they came in they got testing you know blood tests and all these work
ups that they didn’t need and they even got a haircut but in that process
they’ve got their information and two weeks later all of a sudden they have
one he’s that that person’s got a knock on the door and to their surprise
they’re delivering an electric wheelchair up on the second floor to
this gentleman who doesn’t even need one and so the next thing they know then he
gets a bill and he says it’s a five you know it’s five thousand dollars for
something he never needed in all of because this information was out there
and the con artists as our attorney general stated they’re out there looking
for this information and because you’re with so many things or older ghosts that
we serve you’re vulnerable and you need help
so this is so important why we see it on a day-to-day basis that this change is
critical the change to the Medicare card where they’re deleting the social
security number that is going to be a tremendous step and also you know the
things that the Attorney General’s also mentioned this you know an alert to you
and what things that you can do to protect yourself because like st.
Barnabas we’re here to empower you so that you can live well feel well in age
well in the community this is part of that empowerment you need to empower
yourself with the right tools the right information so you can say no I know
it’s difficult for many of you older adults to say no because we’re very
trusting particularly you know as older adults and particularly you know from
diverse communities Latino communities the Korean communities and other
communities you know we like to work with people it’s hard for us to say no
but these tools that are being introduced by by California and the work
that CMS is doing is critical so again we are proud to be here today in
partnership with the Attorney General CMS and the senior Medicare protection
agency to inform and educate you all and to empower you thank you all and now now
I like to introduce to you Sarah who is heads up the senior Medicare Protection
Agency and she’s here to say a few words to you Sarah good morning everybody how
are you doing it’s good to see so many faces here I’m Sarah Barnard I’m
actually from the senior Medicare Patrol which is a protection agency which also
goes by SMP so today when I say SMP I mean senior Medicare Patrol the mission
of the SMP program is to empower and assist Medicare beneficiaries like you
all what we do is we try to prevent detect and report health care fraud
errors and abuse SMP does this through outreach at
education like today and one-on-one counseling with beneficiaries we want to
teach you the consumers how to protect yourselves from people who want to
commit health care fraud as mr. dill mentioned a mr. Becerra the removal of
your social security number from your Medicare card is a big win for consumers
for all of the reasons mentioned that your social security number is extremely
personal and important to you and it’s extremely difficult to change and not
everyone could do it so this is going to prevent a lot of fraud of course
scammers are always trying to stay ahead of us who are trying to protect you and
they’re looking for their next move at SMP we’ve already seen a new crop of
scams that are targeting this new roll out of the Medicare cards SMP has gotten
reports of scam artists who are calling and claiming to be Medicare
representatives telling people that in order to get the new card with a new
number they need to provide their social security number and bank account
information they’re threatening to cancel Medicare if people do not do that
ok so they’re still trying to use us as an in to get your personal information
another scam that’s been happening is a call to Medicare beneficiaries that are
told that the estimate or the new Medicare cards are coming in the mail
which is true but that they need to get a temporary card and that the temporary
cards cost anywhere between five and fifty dollars this is not true the cards
are free and you do not get a temporary card you’ll continue to use your current
card until you get your new card in the mail okay Medicare is not going to
cancel your card Medicare will not call you or visit you in person if anyone
calls you on the phone and says they’re with Medicare they’re a scammer just
hang up okay you don’t need to be nice to these people they’re just out to get
your personal information okay so here’s some general tips
don’t pay for your new card as I said it’s yours for free as a Medicare
beneficiary if anyone calls you and says you need to pay for it it’s a scam don’t
give personal information to get your new card Medicare already knows your
information they’re not going to call you and ask for it they’re not going to
come to your door and ask for it if someone calls claiming to be Medicare if
anyone calls asking for your social security number or bank account number
don’t give it to them they’re scammers okay people are able to change their
phone numbers to make it look like it’s coming from a local area or maybe it’s
coming from Washington DC that doesn’t mean it’s actually their phone number
okay so don’t pay attention to caller ID if someone calls and asks you for
personal information just hang up when you get your new card you need to still
protect it it’s really great that you’re getting a new ID number that’s unique to
you and it’s not your social security number but people will still want to get
it protect it like you would a credit card or any other insurance card because
if people get your Medicare number they can still charge things to your Medicare
that you may not receive they might get an electric wheelchair that you might
not receive but your Medicare will reflect that you did it so please still
review your explanation of benefits or your Medicare summary notice if you see
anything that looks suspicious call senior Medicare Patrol we’re here
for you the counselors speak every language and it’s a free service if you
have something that you just want to run by someone please call us the number for
Medicare Patrol is eight five five six one three seven zero eight zero thank
you so much for coming today and here again is mr. Becerra serra
regal administrator deal thank you for that information so here’s the good news
again the so your Medicare card will now be more secure so keep it in a safe
place but here’s the better news that I think all four of us have tried to
convey to you you don’t have to give anyone your information that’s personal
and you don’t have to give anyone money you know when you’re giving money for
the right reasons you know when you’re speaking to somebody you know and so if
you take now your your new Medicare card that you’ll be receiving soon that now
protects your identity and now does not include your social security number and
you remember that you don’t have to give anyone personal information or anyone
any money then you’ll get to protect what you earned through your hard work
and so we we hope this information the media will help us get out because there
are millions of seniors and individuals who are disabled to receive Medicare who
need to know this so they can protect themselves but I want to say thank you
to administrator dill I want to say thank you to regal and Sarah and I want
to thank all the seniors here at st. Barnabas for allowing us to be here and
I want to thank all the the media and the press that came so that oh I’m sorry
I said I would take a couple of questions I can take them off other yeah
other questions but I want to thank all the media who will help us get the
information out to all of the seniors in California who need to protect their
identity and who need to make sure that they get to receive the Medicare that
they’ve earned thank you all very much