Target 2 Consumer Alert: Beware of Medicare ID Card Scams - WBAY

Target 2 Consumer Alert: Beware of Medicare ID Card Scams

Appleton -

The promise of new Medicare ID cards is the latest scam spreading after the passing of health care reform--and it's happening in our area.

This scam starts with an official-sounding phone call from someone claiming to be affiliated with Medicare.

A Fox Valley woman tipped off Target 2 so we could warn others about this attempt to steal your personal information and your money.

Retired Appleton teacher Toni Durben says she became suspicious when she took a call from someone offering her a lifetime Medicare card.

"Verifying my name, address, zip code was fine with me. I didn't think anything of it until he asked for my banking information," said Durben.

Durben is a Medicare card holder, but she recognized the red flag.

"He said, 'if you aren't going to give me information, your Medicare will be canceled in 2 days.'  I said, 'you've got to be kidding.  Nobody can cancel my Medicare card!'"

She hung up and reported the scam.

"Medical care is so expensive that the loss of that can be very frightening."

JoEllen Wollangk with the Better Business Bureau in Appleton tells us right now is prime time for scammers because a medicare plan deadline is Friday.

"Scammers will pick up on this kind of timing," Wollangk says.  "And they will call people and tell them there's something wrong, something could be expiring, something could be canceled and they want information.  And what people need to know is that is NOT how you will be contacted."

Better Business Bureaus nationwide are getting reports about the phony calls.

"So it is very important that people take a step back, take a deep breath and not give personal information if they hear something that has frightened them over the phone."

Durben says she hopes a warning will help other people avoid losing their savings.

"I just hope anybody else gets a call from somebody telling them they're getting a lifetime Medicare card they automatically hang up, 'cause it's a scam," she said.

Here are some tips to avoid falling victim to one of these scams:

  • Your best move is to hang up the phone
  • Don't share your Medicare information to those who provide medical services, such as the doctor's office
  • Be cautious of offers for something free in exchange for private information
  • Call your Medicare provider

Similar stories have been reported in New Jersey, Arizona, Maryland, Louisiana and the Better Business Bureau says some victims have claimed they've had unauthorized debits taken from their accounts.

Callers may have limited information about the person that's easily obtained from public databases to make the call seem legitimate.

To report any suspicious phone calls, contact the local Better Business Bureau at 920-734-4352

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