Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (8th Senate District), Chairman of the Senate’s Consumer Protection Committee, is warning seniors about a new scam in which thieves pretend to be Medicare personnel in order to trick people into divulging private financial information.
"Unfortunately, criminals are continually devising new schemes to gain access to people’s private information. The best way for individuals to protect themselves from this type of crime is to be alert. People should remember never to give out their private information when they receive an unsolicited phone call or email. I urge anyone who feels that they have been the victim of this or any other identity theft scam to report it immediately," said Senator Fuschillo.
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the scam occurs when thieves call Medicare beneficiaries, misrepresenting themselves as Medicare personnel. They "offer" the victim information about enrolling in a Medicare prescription drug plan. The thieves then ask the victim for their checking account number, so that the necessary funds can be withdrawn to pay for the phony drug plan. The thieves then use that information to steal funds from the victim’s account.
The scam is called the "$299 ring" because that is the amount the thieves usually tell victims to withdraw from their accounts to pay for the phony prescription plan. Medicare states that it has already received complaints from Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Georgia.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services warns that no Medicare beneficiary should give out any of their personal information, such as bank account numbers or social security numbers, over the phone. No legitimate Medicare drug plan can ask a Medicare beneficiary those questions over the phone. In addition, legitimate Medicare drug plans will not ask for payment over the phone or internet.
Seniors who have been a victim of this scam should call their local police department or call Medicare’s fraud, waste and abuse hotline at 1-877-772-3379.
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