If you are like me, you receive many phone calls and emails attempting to scam you out of some vital information that can then be used to defraud you or those associated with you. I am beginning this column, to be published on an irregular basis, to help alert you, or those around you, regarding various scams. While you may not fall for those fraudulent schemes, it is obvious that there are those that do since the scammers continually make contact with the general population, trying one fraudulent scheme after another. I am hopeful that these columns will help alert the public to the wiles of these frauds by identifying various scams and then explaining basically how each scam works.
What prompted the initiation of this column was the latest attempt to scam me. I received a call from a man representing some medical group supposedly associated with Medicare. He asked by name to speak to me. Of course, he had not only my name but my address, and obviously my phone number. In the past, I have been called by persons that not only had my name and address, but also my date of birth. My insurance agent says those are readily available, stating that there are sources available that if one wishes to pay a fee, the source will provide a list of names, addresses, telephone numbers, and birth dates – by zip code.
The person calling me then started “confirming’ my identity by asking if I had seen my regular physician recently and then asking for the name of my physician. He then asked me to confirm my date of birth. I told him that I don’t provide that information to anyone who calls me and I do not know who they are. He then informed me that he was associated with Medicare and that my Medicare card was expiring at the end of the week (this was on a Thursday) and he was tasked with helping me ensure that I received my new Medicare card in a timely manner. That confirmed the scam, at which point I hung up. I then called the sheriff’s office to report the scam, understanding there is not much they can do unless I was a victim of the scam, and even then, there is not much they can do other than write a column like this, for which they do not have time and staffing.
What the person calling me wanted, of course, was to obtain my Medicare card number plus probably some other personal information. Doing so then allows those perpetrating the fraud to cheat the government by billing Medicare for unneeded durable medical equipment or medicines or procedures such as doctor visits. Remember, never give out nor confirm any personal information to some unknown person that calls you, no matter how sincere or reasonable they may sound. Scammers succeed by sounding very sincere and making you feel at ease regarding their requests.