Beware of Medicare phone scam

The West Virginia attorney general's office is warning consumers not to be tricked by callers posing as Medicare or Social Security Administration representatives -- the latest version of a nationwide phone scam.

Aimed at seniors on Medicare, the caller asks for personal information so a new Medicare card can be issued. If someone refuses, a second person posing as a supervisor gets on the line and says the information must be provided to remain in the Medicare program. Once they have the info, they use it to steal identities and tap into bank accounts.

Similar warnings have been issued in Kentucky and Illinois, but there have been cases reported across the United States, according to AARP Foundation Senior Manager Scott Adkins. He estimates that there are thousands of victims of this phone scam nationwide. The scam has been preying on consumers for more than two years with slight changes in the scheme. This latest version keys off of the health care issue and changes to the health care system.

Caller ID shows the incoming number as 866-234-2255. When Consumer Ally called that number, there was a recorded message saying thieves are "spoofing" the number and encourages callers to file reports with their state's attorney general's office or the Federal Communications Commission.

Consumers can protect themselves by not giving out personal information over the phone. Think logically and ask why would a Medicare representative need something like a Social Security number when the agency would already have that information on file. Be wary anytime a stranger asks for personal information, Adkins said.

"Red flags should immediately go up," he said. Report any such calls to your state attorney general's office.

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