The Senior Medicare Patrol program coordinator at Southeast Iowa Area Agency on Aging has received information about a scam attempt. An elder in Burlington received a phone call from a person who stated they were with her insurance company and needed to verify personal information in order to issue her a new insurance card. In this case, the caller knew the elder’s insurance company and despite the caller sounding very official, the elder was skeptical and did not give out her personal information on the telephone. Since learning of this scam attempt, we found that other similar scam attempts are happening in other Iowa locations.
Beware of telephone scams! Never give out personal information over the phone to someone who initiates the contact with you. Just hang up and it is shrewd to be rude. In addition, several other ways to protect you include, signing up for the “Do Not Call” list by calling 1-888-382-1222 and take yourself off call lists. Also, remove your name from national mailing lists; this is free of charge by writing to Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, P. O. Box 9008, Farmingdale, New York 11735. Protecting your personal information is the best line of defense in the fight against identity theft, health care fraud, and abuse. Treat your Medicare, Social Security, and health insurance numbers like credit card numbers. Never give these numbers to strangers, even if they tell you they are from your bank, Social Security, Medicare or insurance company; if they are, they would know your numbers and would not ask for it.
Identity theft is a serious crime, a big business and it affects people of all ages. Identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information and uses it without your permission to commit fraud or deception usually for personal gain. It can disrupt your finances, credit history, and ruin your good name.
If you give out information or suspect you are a victim of identity theft, do not be afraid or embarrassed to talk about it. First, contact your bank and credit card companies immediately. File a report with the police. The police may not be able to do very much themselves, but you may need a police report in order to clear up the problem. Let the Federal Trade Commission know by using its online complaint form at www.ftc.gov or call the theft hotline at 1-877-438-4338.
In addition, you can contact the Senior Medicare Patrol program as they can provide assistance with your questions and concerns about identity theft, scams, and healthcare fraud. Our phone number is 1-800-292-1268 or 752-5433.