The Real Deal: Telephone Scammers Targeting Senior Citizens
Updated: Wednesday, March 20 2013, 01:56 PM EDT
MALTA - Telephone scammers have started targeting those who receive Medicare and Medicaid benefits. The callers try to mislead people into thinking they can get you a discount on medical supplies and ask for your Medicare number.
Laurie DiDonna, of Malta, got a call a few months back that seemed too good to be true, "congratulations, you won a free trip to the Caribbean, a free cruise or something like that," DiDonna says in regards to what the caller on the other end of the line said at the time. All she allegedly had to do before setting sail was to answer a few questions about her age, where she lived and her health. She was asked whether she was diabetic and she answered yes. When the caller said a credit card number would be needed to secure her spot on the cruise ship, DiDonna suspected it was a scam and hung up.
A few days later, she started getting bombarded with new calls. This time the callers were claiming to be from discount pharmacies, promising big savings on her diabetic supplies. "They persisted, they would not let me off the phone, they kept saying we can get it cheaper, we can get it for you cheaper and they were trying to get me to give them my insurance information," she says. Specifically the callers were looking for her Medicare number which is the same as her Social Security number.
"Now, they're not only trying to get your credit card number and your insurance so they can pull an insurance fraud scam but now they're going to try to use your social security number for identity fraud," DiDonna says. She knows others who have gotten similar calls too and wants to warn senior citizens.
If you get one of these calls, hang up. You will never be asked to provide your social security number or Medicare or Medicaid number over the phone and unfortunately, there's no magical warehouse of cheap medical supplies.
You can report scams like these to the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov) but investigators say it's very hard to catch up with these criminals because they move around often and use fake call-back numbers to try and cover their tracks.