Seniors Targeted By Identity Thieves in Texas
May 25, 2013
Individuals posing as Medicare program employees have been targeting seniors in Texas, state officials say. Medicare recipients in the state have reported that they have received calls from someone identifying themselves as employees of Medicare. The supposed employee informs the victims that the federal program is in the process of updating Medicare identification cards and requests additional identifying information to issue a new card. The victim is informed that the new card will be needed to continue to receive Medicare benefits. Information the caller requests typically includes the victim’s Medicare number, which for many is the same as the victim’s Social Security number, as well as bank account information.
“There have been a number of complaints filed with the state attorney general,” commented Dallas elder law attorney John Hale. A spokesperson with the Texas Attorney General’s office has advised all Medicare recipients that they should never provide their personal information to an unsolicited caller. If in doubt about the validity of a call, hang up the phone.
A typical unsolicited phone call comes from someone who claims to be with Medicare. They may state that a replacement Medicare card is in the mail and they are making contact to establish a direct deposit account so any Medicare funds can be directly sent to the account. The call will ask for a bank number and Medicare number. But these calls are financial identity theft scams.
This latest Medicare scam originated in 2012 on the east coast and has spread nationwide, now reaching several counties in Texas. Medicare officials confirm that no one from Medicare will be contacting seniors using Medicare to obtain their personal information by phone.
Medicare’s policy includes not contacting any beneficiaries unless in direct response to a beneficiary first contacting Medicare. Additionally, Medicare’s best practices include not keeping the home phone numbers of seniors in the system or their additional personal information, except for beneficiaries’ Medicare number.
John Hale is a Dallas elder law attorney and Dallas estate planning lawyer with The Hale Law Firm. To learn more visit http://www.thehalelawfirm.com.
The Hale Law Firm
100 Executive Court, Suite 3
Waxahachie, TX 75165