Revised Medicare cards will be issued to residents of New Mexico this month to commemorate the inevitable cheating associated with the launch.
The new cards are required by a federal law that requires the removal of social security numbers as an identifying feature. This should be an important protection against identity theft.
Instead, the revised cards contain a unique Medicare number consisting of 11 randomly assigned numbers and letters.
You do not have to do anything to get the card, including payment for any affiliated service. Remember, if you get calls from scammers trying to charge a fee. Some callers falsely claim that you have to pay a temporary ticket processing fee until the new one arrives.
Likewise, you ignore fake Medicare representatives who call and ask for your Social Security number or other personal information.
"Medicare will never call you uninvited and ask you to provide personal information in order to receive your new card," says the agency.
It advises that you destroy your old map when you get the new map by cutting it into small pieces rather than throwing it in the trash "where a crook can get hold of it".
If you have any questions, please contact the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at 1-800-633-4227.
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If you sell your home, you may be vulnerable to identity theft, not to mention the types of burglary.
The Realtors Association of New Mexico warns home sellers not to store personal items, such as mail or bills, so the information is not made available to potential buyers.
"Strangers will go through your house at exhibitions or open houses," said association president Connie Hettinga in a guide for salespeople. "Make sure you lock your computer and lock up your laptop and any other expensive, easy-to-use electronic devices, such as iPods, before you go."
Also remove valuables so they are in a safe place. That goes for keys, credit cards, jewelery and even prescription drugs, Hettinga advised.
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The FBI warns of a new scam that downplayed student debt by promising to reduce or eliminate it completely.
To do this, callers say, you must first pay a $ 1,500 consulting fee to qualify.
"Once you pay the fee, you'll often find that these companies do not provide services or provide minimal assistance that you would have received from the US Department of Education for free," the agency warned recently.
Here are some pointers from the Federal Trade Commission:
• There is nothing a company can offer you in such a situation that you can not do for yourself.
• Avoid an offer that promises to quickly forgive your loan, especially if the person you contact really has no idea of the specifics of your debt situation. Many scammers will promise to get rid of their debts quickly, but in reality they can not help you.
• Never pay an upfront fee. In fact, it is illegal for a company to bill you in advance for a service. "Many of these companies are not fulfilling their promises to reduce their debt and will not return your money."
Report this type of scam to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.
Ellen Marks is Deputy Commercial Editor at the Albuquerque Journal. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or 505-823-3842 if you know what sounds like a scam. To report fraud to law enforcement agencies, contact the New Mexico Consumer Protection Division toll-free at 1-844-255-9210.