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BBB Tip of the Week: Scammers posing as Medicare officials

Sun., June 23, 2013

The BBB warns residents of the Inland Northwest about phone calls from scammers posing as Medicare officials and asking for personal information to issue new Medicare cards.

Many times the caller already has your address, ZIP code and phone number. The caller asks you to confirm these so the “new” card can be mailed. The caller hopes your guard is down after answering these questions because the person next asks for your bank account or Social Security number. The scammer is phishing.

Phishing occurs when someone pretends to be associated with a legitimate organization and their intention is to gather personal and sensitive information for exploitation. When phishing occurs over the phone, the scammer is often a convincing and fraudulent telemarketer. Once scammers have your personal information, they can drain your finances, run up debt and commit identity theft for gain, including accessing your medical care and services.

Other common telephone phishing scams include callers claiming to be from your bank or investment company, your insurance company, your credit card company, or a local, state or federal government agency. Legitimate companies and government organizations know to never call you and ask for your personal information over the phone.

Protect yourself with the following tips:

• Never share your credit card, checking account, Medicare or Social Security numbers with callers you don’t know, even when asked to “confirm” your information.

• Hang up and contact the organization the scammer claims to be representing to check their legitimacy.

• Review medical bills, Medicare Summary notices and insurance Explanation of Benefits for medical equipment or service charges that you did not incur. Contact your health care provider immediately if any are found.

• Review credit card and bank statements for any unusual or questionable transactions. Contact the financial institution immediately if any are found.

• Research unsolicited offers with the Attorney General’s Office or the BBB before you agree to send money.

If you or a loved one is called by a scammer, report it to the BBB at (509) 455-4200 or online at, to the Attorney General’s Office at (206) 464-6684, or to the FTC at (877)FTC-HELP.

Erin T. Dodge, BBB editor

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