via Beware scam calls seeking info from elderly | Consumer Watch, clarionledger.com, 5/9/13
If you are elderly and get a call from someone who says they are “working with the government”, don’t be fooled. Consumers in Louisiana have reported receiving calls purportedly from federal agencies, medic alert businesses or medical supply companies, but in reality are just scammers looking for sensitive information. It’s likely that Mississippians would also be targeted in such scams.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Acadiana in Lafayette, La. has reported receiving numerous calls from residents who became concerned after being called by such people, looking to obtain Medicare or Medicaid information.
Callers are reportedly are asking for personal information such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, credit card or bank account numbers in order to provide free services such as medic alert alarms, back braces, and other products that assist the elderly and infirm and are paid for by Medicare and Medicaid.
Consumers report various excuses and enticements for requesting the information, including:
- The resident is part of a corporate or government survey.
- They are eligible to receive free products if they give the information.
- They must provide the information to sign up for a new prescription drug plan.
- Residents are eligible for a free medic alert service if they provide the information.
Some scammers claim that they are from the government and are calling to update information or confirming Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security numbers, and may call from “spoofed” phone numbers, meaning the real numbers are disguised on phones equipped with caller ID so the numbers can’t be traced.
The BBB recommends the following tips to avoid this scam:
- Never give out their personal information over the phone, especially if it is from an unsolicited caller. If consumers receive a suspicious phone call, hang up immediately.
- Remind elderly family members that Medicare or Medicaid will never call to ask for sensitive personal financial information. If you suspect fraud contact your local police or the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General at 800-HHS-TIPS.
- Don’t do business with door-to-door or telephone salespeople who tell you that medical services or equipment are free. Medicare, Medicaid and the Social Security Administration will not call you to update information or issue a new card.
- Give your insurance/Medicare identification only to those who have provided you with medical services.
Keep accurate records of all health care appointments to prevent fraud involving Medicare/Medicaid information provided to doctors or caregivers.