Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt recently reported an increase in complaints from consumers about Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security phone scams.
The phone calls are ways for callers to get personal information, according to the attorney general. The callers may already have part or all of the Medicare card number or Social Security number, and asks the resident to confirm the information in order to send a new card. The caller may give the partial information and ask the resident for the rest of the number "to confirm their identity," according to the attorney general.
They also may ask for the resident's bank account or routing number so they can directly deposit benefits.
Once the callers have obtained residents' information, consumers are reporting that a withdrawal of about $500 is being made from the bank account, according to the attorney general.
This is just the latest version of a common scam called “phishing," according to the attorney general. While the details vary, their goal is always the same – to get residents to give away their personal information in order to access their money or steal their identity.
The attorney general offered some ways consumers can protect themselves from phishing scams:
• Beware of phone calls or emails that ask for personal information. Legitimate government agencies will not ask you for personal information over the phone or by email.
• Ask for information in writing. If Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security really do need to get information from you, they will send you a letter requesting information.
• Ask for a contact number. If you think the caller may be real, ask for their contact information so you can call them back. Look them up online to see if the number they give you really is to the agency they claim to be calling from, or ask a trusted friend or family member.
•R eport the scams to the attorney general's office. The Consumer Protection Division staff members are trained to spot scams and identity theft.
Anyone who has become the victim of one of these scams, or just has a question about whether a call might be a scam, may call the attorney general's office at 1-800-432-2310. Visit the website at www.ag.ks.gov to file a complaint or learn more about how to protect yourself from scams.