Arkansans eligible for Medicare and Medicaid should beware of scam artists attempting to steal their new individual Medicare card number.


Thieves are actively targeting older Arkansans by spoofing their caller ID numbers — making the calls appear to be from a government agency — and luring seniors into sharing their Medicare card numbers, according to a news release from Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.


“Medicare will never call asking for your Medicare card number because they already have it,” said Rutledge. “If you receive a call claiming to be with Medicare, hang up and call the phone number listed on your account statement.”


In 2018, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid started issuing beneficiary cards with unique identifying numbers in place of the cardholders’ Social Security Number. The transition period to Medicare Beneficiary Identifier numbers for all participants is set to conclude by December 2019.


Rutledge issued the following tips to help Arkansans protect themselves:


• Never give out or confirm sensitive information, such as a bank account, credit card or social security numbers unless the caller is trusted and his or her identity has been confirmed.


• Be cautious of callers using organizational or familiar-sounding names similar to existing agencies. Scammers use internet technology to spoof area codes, so although it may seem that a call is from Washington, D.C., it could instead originate from anywhere in the world — even from scammers.


• The Center for Medicare and Medicaid and other government agencies have warned about these scams. If contacted, hang up and call the government agency directly at a trusted number.


• If someone asks you for your information, for money, or threatens to cancel your health benefits if you don’t share your personal details, then hang up and call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or visit www.medicare.gov/fraud.


For more information on other tips to avoid being scammed and other consumer-related issues, call the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at 800-482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.