ELLSWORTH — Two area residents are raising the alarm about phone scams targeting the elderly after receiving suspicious calls last week.
Ken Senter answered a call at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 15 from a man with what he described as a heavy East Indian accent.
“He said, ‘I’m calling about your new Medicare card,’” Senter said.
Senter said the caller said he needed to authenticate the Sedgwick man’s identity in order to issue the card.
After answering a few seemingly harmless questions, Senter said he was asked something he was just not willing to answer.
“Then he said, ‘We’ll also need the bank where you do your business,’” Senter said.
The caller also asked for an account number.
Senter, who did not provide his banking information, said things “sounded real fishy” when the caller said that he could continue using his old Medicare card even after a new one was issued.
Senter said it was a shame that people worried about losing access to their Medicare benefits might fall for the scam.
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) issued a scam alert in April about the calls.
According to the alert, scammers pretending to be from Medicare, the Social Security Administration, a medical equipment company or an official-sounding but nonexistent organization such as the National Medical Office call about needing personal information in order to issue a new Medicare card.
“When people refuse to provide the requested information, a phony supervisor comes on the line to say that the information must be provided to remain enrolled in the Medicare program,” says West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw Jr. “The thieves then use information collected to steal victims’ identities and remove funds from accounts through checks and electronic transfers.”
Experts advise people who receive such calls to hang up. Medicare or Social Security employees will not request such information over the phone. Contact the agencies directly if you have any questions about benefits.