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CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Attorney General’s Office and representatives with the state’s Medicare program are warning recipients of fraud as 106,000 residents receive new Medicare cards in the coming weeks.

Medicare’s new ID cards, which replace Social Security numbers with a randomly determined 11-digit code, have attracted new scams throughout the country. The cards will be automatically sent for free, and require no additional work on behalf of residents.

Officials told seniors how to best protect themselves Thursday at the Laramie County Senior Activity Center in Cheyenne.

Medicare beneficiaries report calls from operators claiming to represent a governmental agency. These scammers typically ask for verification of personal banking information, which is then used for theft.

Medicare deputy regional administrator Diane Moll said legitimate governmental agencies will not call to request such information, and warned against releasing any financial or personal details over the phone.

“The government is never going to call you,” Moll said. “We are not going to call and ask for personal information. You don’t have to do anything; your card will come. The main thing to remember is your Medicare benefits are not changing; it’s just a new card.”

Another scam involves the claim that a recipient’s family is experiencing an emergency and needs financial assistance immediately.

“The thing I always tell people is stop and slow down,” said Benjamin Burningham, senior assistant attorney general with the state’s Consumer Protection Unit.

Scammers may also claim recipients are owed a refund from their insurance company, and the caller needs financial information to deposit it.

Tom Lacock, associate state director for Wyoming AARP, said the organization has been lobbying for the removal of Social Security numbers on Medi-care cards for years to help protect consumers from these types of scams.

He said more tips can be found online through the nonprofit’s Fraud Watch Network at www.aarp.org.

Business and Health Reporter

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