Medicare scammers hitting Newton area

Chad Frey
The Kansan

Krys Hiebert of Newton  isn't the kind of person to taken easily, but a recent phone call led to her falling for a scam. 

The caller claimed to be from Medicaid, and told her she needed a new Medicaid number. The caller  was convincing, and persistent. 

"If it is happening to me, it is happening to others also," Hiebert said. 

She went through the process set up by the caller to get a "new" Medicaid number. 

But something just did not sit right with Hiebert. As she replayed the calls in her mind, she came to realization that it is quite likely her identity was at risk. According to the Federal Trad Commission, there were 1.4 million reports of identity theft in 2020 — nearly double the previous year. 

"You could hear on the phone call, a whole group of people talking and doing this same thing to other people. The medicare number they gave me is false," Hiebert said.  "... I checked my credit report, and put a freeze on that number."

She also subscribes to an identity protection service. 

Still, she was proactive after realizing she had fallen victim to a scam. She called Medicare — where she learned that the organization does not call subscribers. The organization conducts all business in writing by mail. 

According to the Federal Trade Commission, if someone calls claiming to be from Medicare, asking for Social Security number sor bank information to get a new card or new benefits, it is a scam. The FTC recommends not  giving personal information to a caller claiming to be from Medicare, and to not trust caller id.

Medicare imposters can be reported to  1-800-MEDICARE and ftc.gov/complaint. 

She also called her credit card companies, and the police. 

"I had to get a new medicare card, flle a report with Medicare and with the local police department," Hiebert said. 

And as she was doing that work, the scammers called back again. She hung up. A few days later, the called again.  

According to identityforce.com, Overall, 33 percent of U.S. adults have experienced identity theft, which is more than twice the global average. More than one in four older adults, aged 55 and over, have experienced identity theft. One in five victims of identity theft have experienced it more than once.