The Better Business Bureau serving southwest Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and the Kansas plains is warning senior citizens on Medicare to be aware of phone calls wanting to update their medical information or to send them a new card.
“We need consumers to know that these are not legitimate phone calls. Scammers are looking for personal information under the ruse of information verification,” said BBB President Jim Hegarty.
“If the crooks can get banking information, they’ll use it to commit identity theft. These scammers can be very aggressive, often calling many times and at all hours of the day to wear down their potential victims. They may even have limited information about the person that’s easily gleaned from public databases that they use to make the call seem legitimate.”
Recently, a 75-year-old woman reported to the BBB that she had continually received phone calls for a week. She finally answered a call, and it was from a man with an accent who identified himself as an “officer.”
He told her that her Medicare card was “not good” and a free plastic card had been made for her. The woman asked him if he was with Medicare. He replied that he was not, but reiterated that this would be her “new” Medicare card and identified his business as a company located in Las Vegas.
A BBB investigation could not find any company in Las Vegas by that name. As the woman continued to question the caller, he became belligerent and transferred her to another “officer” who spoke with a similar accent.
This “officer” had all of her bank account numbers except the final three digits, which he said he needed to verify her identity. Feeling pressured, she provided the numbers.
After getting her account information, the “officer” said the card would not be sent to her. The woman notified her bank shortly after the call; fortunately, no one had yet tried to access her account.
The BBB gave the following advice:
» Medicare does not make phone calls regarding new cards and will never call to ask for sensitive personal financial information.
» Do not give out any personal information over the phone, especially if it is from an unsolicited caller.
» If you receive a suspicious phone call, immediately hang up.
» Call BBB’s toll-free Senior Line at 877-637-3334 for advice or call the Medicare hotline at 1-800-447-8477.