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Phone scammers prey on seniors

By Staff | May 7, 2013

Scambook, the Internet’s leading complaint resolution platform, is warning senior citizens on the trending phone scam capitalizing on a fraudulent Medicare. Scambook has received over 100 consumer complaints about one alleged benefits company that has conned elderly Americans out of more than $130,000 dollars.

A caller asks the victim to verify basic information such as a telephone number or mailing address, deluding them into providing much more private information such as a Social Security number or routing number. This leads to subsequent unauthorized deductions from the checking account.

To protect vulnerable seniors, Scambook advises the following 5 tips:

1. Never give any personal information to an unsolicited caller. Any legitimate insurance company or Medicare representative will not request personal financial information over the phone.

2. Pressure to “act now” is a red flag. If the caller says it’s a “one time offer” or attempts to coerce consumers with a certain deadline, this is a significant red flag.

3. Hang up as soon as the call becomes suspicious. Scambook advises consumers to trust their instincts. If the caller is speaking too fast and refuses to slow down, repeat themselves, or answer questions, it’s likely to be a scam.

4. If in doubt, get the caller’s information, call the insurance company or Medicare, or research them online. Ask for the caller’s name, phone number and extension, and the name of their direct supervisor. Scambook recommends searching for this information on their complaint database or by using Google. If the caller does turn out to be legitimate, seniors can call them back.

5. Contact the healthcare provider and monitor finances. If seniors suspect that a caller was trying to scam them, Scambook suggests calling the healthcare provider directly to pull up a record of the phone call. Additionally, monitor bank accounts and bill statements very closely.

The sooner an unauthorized charge is seen, the easier it will be to dispute.

Fraudulent callers claiming to represent the National Do Not Call Registry are preying on victims to register their phone numbers and renew their registrations for the Do Not Call List, requiring the exchange of private information that can be sold in marketing lists or even used for identity theft.

Although the Registry originally required consumers to renew their registration, this provision was dropped in 2008 and registration no longer expires. The Federal Trade Commission, which operates the National Do Not Registry, will never make unsolicited phone calls to consumers.

To help identify and avoid this phone scam, Scambook advises the following 6 facts about the National Do Not Call Registry:

1. Consumers can register their phone numbers by calling 888-382-1222 from the phone they wish to register, or register online at www.donotcall.gov. Registration is 100% free and does not expire.

2. The FTC does not allow private companies or third parties to register consumer phone numbers. Any website or caller who offers to register the consumer’s name is deceitful.

3. Consumers can find out if their number is already registered by calling 1-888-382-1222 or verifying the registry online at www.donotcall.gov.

4. Telemarketing companies are required to stop calling a registered number within 31 days of initial registration. Consumers can also prohibit individual companies by requesting that the company add their number to the company’s own do not call list.

5. The National Do Not Call Registry does not cover political calls, charities, telephone surveys or any company with which the consumer has an existing business relationship. Calls that claim to be a survey but also sell goods or services must comply with the Do Not Call regulations.

6. If a company violates Do Not Call regulations, consumers may file a complaint at www.donotcall.gov. However, any complaints filed on the Do Not Call site will only be used for law enforcement investigation and/or statistics. To resolve an individual complaint, Scambook invites consumers to use its 100% free services at www.scambook.com/submit.