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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Business

BBB Tip of the Week: BBB sees more phony agency calls

By Tyler Russell BBB Northwest and Pacific

Better Business Bureau is seeing an increasing number of scammers hiding behind fake phone personas to trick consumers.

BBB Scam Tracker received more than 500 reports last year about callers claiming to be Medicare representatives. Make sure to protect you and your loved ones as this scam is popping up more frequently.

How does this scam work? You receive a call that appears on your caller ID as Medicare or Social Security Administration. In one version, when you pick up the phone, a Medicare impersonator offers you something for free, such as a back or knee brace, medical equipment or new Medicare cards. All you must do is share some personal information, such as your Social Security number, to “confirm” your identity.

In an alternate version of this scam, there is an attempt to intimidate you by claiming there is a problem with your Medicare or Social Security benefits. The scammers may claim there has been suspicious activity on your account and if you don’t give them the information they need right away, you are in danger of losing your benefits or worse.

Sometimes, scammers even use robocalls to tell you there is a problem and ask you to call a different number to resolve it. Regardless of the method, the scammer’s goal is to steal your personal information for their personal benefit.

How to protect yourself

Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. If you receive a call from a number you haven’t saved to your contacts, or if your caller ID says “unknown,” don’t pick up the phone. Also, be aware scammers can dupe caller ID and mask their true phone number.

When in doubt, hang up. If you do answer a call from an unsolicited caller and are greeted by a robocall or even a person who claims to be with a government agency, hang up. Don’t press any buttons, don’t engage in conversation and don’t ask to be removed from the calling list.

Know how government agencies work. Government agencies don’t call consumers unsolicited. They send letters if they need to contact you.

For more information

If you receive a particularly convincing call from someone claiming to be an SSA employee, hang up and call the agency’s toll-free number at 1 (800) 772-1213 to verify the issue. Likewise, you can call 1 (800) MEDICARE to verify Medicare issues.

You can learn more by reading and

If you have received a call from a government agency impersonator, help others avoid falling victim and report the details of the call to

If you have been the victim of identity theft, go to for more information and a personalized recovery plan.

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