Older Americans are often sought out as victims of scams and identity theft schemes for many reasons. Often they are more trusting and also may have saved money so that they become an enticing target. In addition, recent studies have shown that as we age, a part of our brain that makes us skeptical becomes less viable resulting in older people being more susceptible to the claims of scammers and identity thieves. A scam that is making its way around the country now involves a telephone call from an organization called “Preferred Benefits to Seniors.” The caller for this non-existent group tells his or her victim that they need a new Medicare card for 2013. The caller then asks for personal information necessary to process the new card. The victim is told that they will lose Medicare benefits if they do not comply. Unfortunately, if the caller provides personal information including his or her present Medicare number, which still is the person’s Social Security number (despite protests from consumer advocates), he or she will end up a victim of identity theft.
Never give personal information over the phone to anyone you have not called at a number that you know is accurate. You can never be sure if the person calling you is who they say they are. In addition, Medicare will never call you by phone and ask for personal information. If you have any question about whether you have been called by Medicare, you can call them at the phone number indicated on the back of your Medicare card whereupon you will be told that the previous call was a scam.