YAKIMA, Wash. — For the second time this year, Linda Badgley of Yakima got a phone call Monday from a Medicare representative. Medicare needed to send her a new card, the woman said, and she needed to verify Badgley’s personal information.
Unfortunately for the woman, Badgley had done her homework.
“I told her that I had contacted Medicare and they said this was a hoax and she hung up right away,” Badgley said Tuesday.
Seniors often seem easy targets for scammers, who — like this woman, and the man who previously tried to worm Badgley’s banking information out of her — call with what sounds at first like a legitimate request.
But Stephanie Magill, communications director for the regional Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services office in Seattle, says that Medicare or Social Security would never make these types of “cold calls.”
“The only reason they would need a new card is if they had lost one, or maybe there was a change to a status ... But we have their address, so we wouldn’t be calling and asking for any personal information,” Magill said. “We always recommend that people never give out personal information over the phone or to people who are coming to their door.”
The best thing to do after a suspicious contact is to call 1-800-MEDICARE and report it, which helps Medicare track scams and uncover trends, she said.
These “phishing” scams come in a variety of forms, officials in the state Attorney General’s office say. If you question the legitimacy of a call, they recommend asking the caller to provide your personal information and let you confirm it, or to call the organization the caller claims to be from to double-check.
“Seniors need to know that Medicare will never call them offering to replace their cards, they’ll never call seeking personal information and they’ll never charge you to replace your cards,” Attorney General Bob Ferguson said.