Even the smartest among us can fall for scam phone calls that target older people. When Medicare scammers call, they work hard to keep you on the line because they want you to give up your personal information so that they can steal your money.
This may sound overly dramatic, but we’re not nearly as over-the-top as the callers.
Callers try to scare you. They persist and goad you into giving up information that you should not give to strangers.
At a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lois Greisman, Associate Director of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Division of Marketing Practices, said that the government imposter scams were the top complaint of people over 60.
She described how one company, SunBright Ventures, allegedly called people and claimed that they were from Medicare. They told people that they needed to provide their bank account information so that they could get new Medicare cards.
Once the scammers got the information, the FTC says they debited bank accounts remotely even though consumers never authorized the withdrawals. The FTC reached an agreement with the company but no one went to prison.
While the FTC brought 38 cases against companies since 2005, that seems like a drop in the bucket considering the wide swath these scammers cut through our lives.
Many of the scammers operate from other countries and specifically target older adults in the U.S.. That’s why we need to remain vigilant to protect ourselves and those we love and care for.
If you get a call from someone asking for your personal information, hang up the phone. Disconnect. Press END. Do not engage in conversation with them. Don’t even bother trying to get to the bottom of the scam to find out who these people are.
Hang up. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. You can do it online here. Or you can call 1-877-FTC-Help, 1-800-447-8477.
In our house we don’t answer the landline when it rings unless the caller ID says it’s someone we know. Instead we check messages.
The FTC produced this video featuring a retired teacher who explains how the scammers reached her.