Baby Boomers Are Heavily Targeted and Extremely Vulnerable
As I read my news digest every morning, there is one thing I have found with consistency. And that is Medicare scams seem to be at the forefront of much of the news. Not only are they fostered by unscrupulous physicians falsely overcharging the system, but also there are a myriad of hackers out there looking to unseat personal information from private citizens. Such as you and me.
Here is my real-life story.
I am planning to have a surgical procedure performed at a local hospital and have been communicating with their personnel on a frequent basis on both the pre-admission requirements and the actual procedure. There is a preference for doing all this over the phone rather than email, so I became accustomed to answering the phone when calls would come in with a specific area code and city identification, thinking it was one of the many providers I needed to speak with.
On one of the calls, I was advised that my cardiologist had just submitted all the appropriate forms to Medicare for surgical coverage approval, when I received another call from that particular area code and city I.D. Based on all that was unfolding, naturally I picked up the phone.
The person on the other end immediately identified themselves as being from Medicare. They were calling to notify me they were sending brand new Medicare cards which had the benefit of guaranteeing all my procedures henceforth would be covered. They confirmed my mailing address, my email and the list of medications I was taking. Then they said they were transferring me to another “desk” in order to finalize the process.
Now I think of myself as being pretty intuitive, but the sheer coincidence of their call immediately following my cardiologist submission was too uncanny to ignore. So, I hung on to speak with the next desk.
When they came on the line, they asked a number of questions about my family which I found irrelevant so I did not answer, then they began asking about my personal information—my Medicare I.D., Social Security number, my bank account and routing number, etc. When that occurred, I hung up knowing full well I was being scammed. Red flags galore.
It took me ten minutes to compose myself after acknowledging that I had been manipulated in such a terrible fashion. But once I had my wits about me, I called Medicare directly. Here is the information they told me, in no uncertain terms.
- First and foremost, Medicare will NEVER call you unless you have made such a request by either leaving a voice message or sending a letter.
- Medicare fraud and scams are alive and well. Thousands of unsuspecting people are being targeted everyday by these hackers. It only takes a few to “stay on the line” and give up their information for these hackers to have a payday.
- The calls come from a well-organized group of individuals usually from another country. They have access to your local area code and city identifier, making it look like someone you know is calling.
- They know a great deal about you, but do not typically have your definitive personal or account information, so that’s why they play the game of transferring your call to a “more important” desk.
- Once they have you engaged, they will ask for your SS# and your banking information and if you pause or refuse, they will threaten you with cancellation of your Medicare coverage. Once they have you at this point, their job is complete and they turn your vital information over to another group poised to hijack your accounts and steal your funds, the transaction being totally untraceable.
The Medicare specialist I spoke with said these people are very talented and look for procedure notices sent to Medicare for preapproval purposes, such as what occurred in my case. From that, they have a great deal of information about you which makes the call sound very credible. And then they lower the hammer.
She reiterated that Medicare will NEVER call you with anything remotely related to your account or your personal information. EVER!
She said the best thing to do is not engage the caller and immediately hang up, record the numbers from which they are calling and report them to Medicare and the Federal Communication Commission, and if you wish, the FBI.
Needless to say, this was a most trying encounter. One I can assure you will never be repeated by this BoomerGal. I wanted to share this experience because it is real and it did happen to me, and I fell for it to a point, but then logic took over. Thankfully. It is imperative you have this information to be guarded. I do hope in some way this message finds its way into your daily read and helps protect you from being subjected to this same sort of scam.
Be on the lookout, be wary and don’t ever speak to anyone asking for personal and protected information, without knowing in advance who it is.
Stay well all you Boomers. Remain relevant and vigilant so you don’t get scammed.