Consumer Catch-up: Medicare scam warning, wildfire legislation, college costs skyrocket

Alameda County warning about Medicare scams

New Medicare cards are being mailed out, and local officials want you to avoid possible scams.

The Alameda County District Attorney joined with Medicare in a warning today. New Medicare cards are coming out for 245 thousand Alameda County residents, as well as people all over the Bay Area.

Officials say Social Security numbers are not on the new cards, to prevent identity theft, keep scammers from using benefits, and to protect tax dollars.

Instead, the cards will have an MBI number, or Medicare Beneficiary Identifier. This 11-character number will be used for transactions like billing, eligibility status, and claim status. Your benefits will not change.

Officials started mailing cards for California residents this month. New cards will be mailed out nationwide through April of next year.

Once you receive the new card, make sure to destroy the old card so that no one can get your personal information from it.

Lawmakers want to prevent future wildfires

Lawmakers are working on legislation to reduce or prevent wildfires caused by power company equipment. Supports say the rules are especially important now that investigators have released a cause for some of the wildfires.

Last week, CAL FIRE announced trees coming into contact with power lines is the cause of four major wildfires in Butte and Nevada Counties. Investigators found that PG&E failed to remove trees around power lines.

Under one proposed measure, utility companies would have to develop comprehensive procedures for handling disasters like wildfires.

Another measure under consideration would require the utility companies to turn off power lines at risk of being knocked down by strong winds.

College costs expected to skyrocket

If you had a child today, it would cost you almost double to send that child to a private college 18 years from now. That's according to a new study by investment company Wealthfront.

The projected cost of tuition at a four-year private college in the year 2036 is $303,000, compared to the current average of $167,000.

Public school degrees will go up too. The study found a four-year degree from a public school will cost about $184,000, compared to $101,000 currently.

Wealthfront says it calculates projected inflation on top of current costs provided by the Department of Education to come up with its numbers.

Click here for a look at more stories by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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