July 6, 2023 Fraud & Scams
Anatomy of a Scam
Scam Calls Persist
Given the pervasive number of scam calls, you can be in any group of people, in any discussion on this topic, and someone will say, “I just had a call like that”, or “that happened to me”, or “my parent had this happen to them”. Scam calls try to engage you on any one of a number of issues, all with the purpose of obtaining your personal information or money.
Which Call Did You Get?
Medicare Customer Service: a person claiming to be from Medicare calls to follow up on the new Medicare card that was sent to you. When you reply that you haven’t received one, they ask you to just verify your number and they’ll follow up on this for you. Now the scammer has your Medicare number.
Social Security Representative: a scammer impersonating a representative calls to say that your account has been compromised and you’ll be cut off unless you take immediate action. And that action is to send cash.
IRS Agent: you get a call from someone saying there is some illegal activity associated with your account and the police are on their way to pick you up. The only way to stop being arrested is to pay to have the problem fixed.
The Grandparent Scam: you get a call that your grandchild is in an emergency and needs help, they are either in legal trouble or a health crisis – either way, the only way to help is to send cash.
Tone of the Call
The scammers’ tactics tend to follow a pattern: they instill fear and a sense of urgency, and they are persistent. They make you fearful that you’ll lose your health care coverage, or your Social Security payment will be cut off, or you’ll be threatened with arrest, or something horrible will happen to your grandchild. Then there is the urgency: this “problem” needs to be taken care of right now! They’ll keep you on the phone, won’t give you a chance to hang up to ensure that you don’t reach out to anyone else. They’ll insist that immediate action is necessary! Another tip-off: when scammers want cash, they want it sent either in the way of a gift card or a direct transfer from a banking account.
How to Avert a Scam
Scams work – unfortunately – and that is why they persist. The fraudsters keep at it because they know they’ll eventually score. The real defense to these scams is knowledge: it is knowing what you can do to prevent it from happening to you. The key is to protect yourself.
Here is what you can do.
- Don’t answer the phone unless you’re expecting a call. And keep in mind that scammers can spoof numbers. So, it could appear to be a local number on your caller ID, or your display could say that Medicare or some other agency, is calling. Not likely! Let them leave a message if they really need to talk to you. Then be skeptical of any message. Don’t call back.
- If you do pick up and you don’t recognize the caller, hang up. Don’t engage in any conversation.
- Don’t give out any personal information.
- Ignore any request to press a number to be removed from a list (or for any other reason).
- Don’t succumb to threats. You don’t owe the caller anything, even courtesy. Hang up and feel good about doing so!
Keep in Mind
- Medicare, the IRS, and Social Security Administration will not call you out of the blue.
- These agencies won’t ask for money or any personal information.
- These agencies would never threaten you.
Scammers are professional liars who want your money and your identity. And they can be very persuasive. You can defend yourself, your family, and your friends by knowing their patterns: fear, urgency, and demands for your information.
You have the power to protect yourself, your money, and your identity. Senior Medicare Patrol can help you prepare. Please visit our website at www.smpwi.org to learn more. And tell those friends with scamming stories about us. We’re here to help.