Starting in April 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will begin mailing new Medicare cards to those on Medicare. These cards will have a new Medicare Number—a number unique to each individual.

The new cards will help protect the identities of people with Medicare. The new card will not change your Medicare benefits.

“We’re taking this step to protect our seniors from fraudulent use of their Social Security numbers which can lead to identity theft and illegal use of Medicare benefits,” said CMS Administrator Seema Varma.

Personal identity theft affects a large number of seniors and this number is growing. People age 65 or older are increasingly the victims of identity theft crimes. This is why CMS is readying a fraud prevention initiative that removes Social Security numbers from Medicare cards.

CMS will begin mailing new Medicare cards in April 2018-and all Medicare cards will be replaced by April 2019. Mailing Medicare beneficiaries new cards will take time. Be aware that your card might arrive at a different time than your friend’s or neighbor’s.

“Medicare will mail your new card to the address the Social Security Administration has on file for you, so now is the time to make sure Social Security has your correct mailing address,” said Karen Mayse, Leader of Medicare Benefits Counseling at North Central Flint Hills Area Agency on Aging.

If you need to correct your address, you may update it on the Social Security website at www.ssa.gov using the MyAccount link. You may also call 800-772-1213. TTY users can call 800-325-0778.

People who receive their new Medicare card are advised to destroy their old Medicare cards and start using the new card right away. Medical providers will need the new card in order to bill Medicare for medical services and equipment.

Scammers and fraudsters are usually active whenever Medicare is in the news. Please be wary of anyone who contacts you by phone or e-mail about your Medicare card.

— Remember: Neither Social Security nor Medicare will ever ask you to give personal or private information to get your new Medicare number or new card.

— Protect yourself! Hang up if someone calls you and asks for your Social Security number, your Medicare number or your credit card information!

— If you have questions about the legitimacy of someone contacting you about your Medicare, call your local Council on Aging at 620-241-4383 or Area Agency on Aging at 800-362-0264 and ask to speak to a SHICK counselor.

The McPherson County Council on Aging is located at 926 N. Main St., Suite B, in McPherson.