Summer 2018 1

Scam Alert: Medicare and More

by A. Scott White, CFP® , ChFC® , CLU®
President, Scott White Advisors

According to USA Today, scams are more sophisticated today compared to five years ago because of the record amount of compromised data available on the “dark web” for criminals to use. Here are some of the latest scams that have bilked unsuspecting people out of money.

1–You get a call from a man who says he’s with Medicare.

He’s calling to verify your Social Security number so your new card can be issued. He says you must pay for the new card via credit card or wire. Be aware that there is no fee for the new Medicare card and no action that beneficiaries need to take to receive them. Furthermore, a legitimate Medicare representative will never ask for personal information via phone or email, and official correspondence from Medicare is sent via U.S. mail.

2–You get a call from someone posing as a technical support representative

with the company that manufactured your computer. The rep says your computer has a virus and it must be fixed immediately or you will lose all your data forever. He sends you a link to log into so he can access your computer remotely. Be aware that giving remote access to anyone will allow the entire contents of your computer—and your confidential information—to be copied.

3–You get a call from someone who says he is with the Internal Revenue Service.

He tells you there is a problem with your tax return and you could be liable to pay thousands of dollars. He tells you to give him a credit card number immediately or you will be arrested. Be aware that the IRS does not call taxpayers; instead, they send letters through the U.S. mail.

4–You get a text message from your bank telling you there is a problem with your account.

The message says your account has been locked for security reasons and you need to provide details such as your account number, password or PIN to unlock it. You are instructed to click on a link to a website. Be aware that financial institutions like credit unions and banks will never ask you to reveal security details such as your PIN or password over the phone or via text.

How can you protect yourself and your data?

• Assume that every call is a scam. Ask probing questions and give them inaccurate information, such as the wrong name of the city you live in.
• Ask for the caller’s name and extension number and say you will call them back. Do not call the number the caller gives you; instead, call the number on the company website IF you already have a relationship with the company.
• Search the internet by typing in “X (name of company) scam” and see what comes up. You may find that other people have been scammed.
• Hang up and file a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/complaint