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Seniors targeted in Medicare scam

By Nadia Singh
Published On: Mar 14 2013 07:37:55 PM EDT
Updated On: Mar 14 2013 11:42:36 PM EDT
Seniors targeted in Medicare scam
BEDFORD, Va. -

It happens all too often. Older residents are the targets of scams that could cost them hundreds, even thousands of dollars. Sometimes it's a home improvement scam, other times, victims are asked directly for their personal information.

The United States Census Bureau reports that seniors make up roughly 12% of the population, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation says they’re over 35% of the fraud victims, and it’s getting worse.

Julie Wheeler, president of The local Better Business Bureau office says, "we’ve gotten several calls this week from senior citizens who said they’ve received phone calls saying it’s from Medicare and they need them to verify their Medicare number. First of all, Medicare is not going to call you.”

One of the senior citizens who received that phone call and knew it was a scam a Bedford woman who wanted to remain anonymous. She describes parts of the phone call to Your Hometown News Leader.

“He says, well, Medicare wants to send Medicare cards to all people.”

But she’s had the same card since the early 90’s.  She saw the number was a strange one and immediately knew something wasn’t right when the caller said this:

“What bank do you deal with?

When she asked angrily why he wanted to know, the caller hung up and didn’t call again.  Wheeler says there are several things seniors can do to protect themselves.

“Don’t ever give personal information out over the phone if somebody calls you, says Wheeler." “Only provide that Medicare number to somebody who’s providing medical services to you.” “You just need to be alert, be careful about providing personal information on the phone ”

And although nothing happened to this woman, she still feels violated and worried for others in similar situations.

“I think it’s one of the most terrible things in the world to take advantage of old folks.” “You’re living on social security and so many people are, and they’re hardly existing on it I just think it’s awful to do that.”

If you feel you've been the victim of the scam or are being targeted, the Better Business Bureau says to alert them or law enforcement immediately.