March 7, 2013
by Jennifer Leach
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC
We’ve heard reports that a variation on an old scam is making the rounds. It sounds like this:
Unsuspecting person who answers the phone: Hello?
Scammer who is calling: Ma’am, I’m calling from the government. We’re about to send out national medical cards for the new Affordable Care Act. You’re one of the lucky people to get yours first, so I just need to confirm your name, address and phone number. Oh, and your bank account number, too…
This kind of scam pops up anytime there’s a big change in a government policy, or when a topic is in the news. Scammers use people’s uncertainty to try to get them to reveal personal information. From there, it’s not much of a leap to identity theft, with scammers racking up bogus charges on your credit cards, opening new credit cards in your name, even taking out loans in your name.
You can protect yourself. If you get a call asking for your information, hang up. It’s a scam. Government organizations and the legitimate groups you do business with have the information they need. They’ll never call to ask you for it.
But do me a favor: If you get a call like this, report it to the FTC. The phone number on your caller ID – if there is one – or the name or location of the caller – is helpful information to investigators and professional fraud fighters. You can report it online or on the phone, toll-free, at 1-877-FTC-HELP. Your report might help stop the scammers, and it could help keep others from being scammed.