Warning Issued on Medicare Telephone Scam
>N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper is warning residents not to fall for a new telephone scam that tries to get Medicare recipients to give up their personal financial information.
"Scammers keep coming up with new ways to trick you into sharing your personal financial information," Cooper said in a news release. >"Don't fall for it, even if the calls claim to be from a government agency or company you know."
Some North Carolina consumers report getting calls that claim to come from Medicare, asking for personal financial information such as their checking account number. >The calls show up on consumers' caller ID as coming from (866) 234-2255, which is a legitimate Medicare office telephone number. >
When consumers call the number back, they now get a message that says that scammers have spoofed the number and that consumers should report the call to their state attorney general or federal authorities. >
>Spoofing occurs when scammers make it appear that their calls or e-mails come from a legitimate telephone number or e-mail account.
>About 20 North Carolinians have contacted Cooper's Consumer Protection Division to report this scam over the past couple of weeks. >Similar fraudulent calls have also been reported in other states.
Cooper offered the following tips to help consumers avoid falling victim to scams like this one:
n Never share personal financial information with someone you don't know who calls you, e-mails you or comes to your home uninvited. >
n Government agencies and businesses will not call you or e-mail you to ask for your financial information. >If you get such a call from an agency or company with which you do business, hang up and call the organization back at a telephone number you know to be legitimate, such as a number listed on a recent account statement or in the phone book.
n Keep in mind that caller ID can be manipulated to show different telephone numbers. >Never assume that it's OK to give out personal information because the call appears to come from a valid number.
n Remember that e-mails that appear to come from an official e-mail address can also be fakes, even if they provide links to what looks like the company's or agency's real website. >Don't respond to the e-mail or click on any links.
Cooper urged consumers who may have fallen victim to this or other scams to act quickly to minimize any damage.
"Contact your bank and credit card company immediately if you've shared your account numbers with someone who may be a scammer," he said. >"There are also simple steps you can take to help minimize your risk and protect your identity, such as putting a free security freeze on your credit reports."
>To report a scam or get more tips and identity theft help from the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division, visit www.ncdoj.gov >or call (877) 5-NO-SCAM toll-free.
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