We’ve heard of online bank scams and thieves targeting credit card accounts, but the scams are getting more personal, starting with a phone call to the elderly.
With all the recent changes to Medicare, thieves are taking advantage of those who may be confused or disoriented.
They’re now calling Medicare recipients, claiming to be a representative of the agency.
Eilene Shiflet recently got a suspicious call to her home. The man on the other end claimed to be a Medicare representative. "He said due to all the price cuts in Medicare, which have happened, they were verifying all Medicare cards and were issuing new ones and that I could not use mine after the beginning of next month unless I have the new card," she recalls.
So he went on to verify her name and address, but then asked for more personal information.
"He said, 'well, we have to verify this or we can't send you a card’. I said, 'well, I'm not giving you my birth date because I don't think you need that' and he said, 'well, how about what bank you use?' I said, WHOA," Shiflet says.
Instead of giving the information, she asked for his name and phone number to call him back. And immediately, he hung up the phone. But that's not often the outcome for the increasing number of victims who are being targeted."
Ronald Noble, with the Social Security Administration in Dothan says, "Unfortunately, it's getting to be more and more common. I know in the last five years, this is becoming a very frequent occurrence."
Scams or identity theft are reported at least once a week at the Social Security Office in Dothan.
To avoid being a victim, do not give your information over the phone, online or to anyone suspicious.
Officials also say to guard your social security number and your card and do not carry it with you.
As far as Medicare goes, policy changes rarely require the agency to issue new cards. Recipients only get new cards if they request it.
If you think you're a victim of identity theft, contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-438-4338.