Crime, Health, Sci-Tech

Consumer Alert: Telephone scammers are spoofing local hospitals and public utilities to steal personal information, threatening to terminate Medicare benefits

BALTIMORE, MD—Maryland’s Consumer Protection Division is warning residents that scammers are “spoofing” local hospital and public utility phone numbers in an attempt to steal personal and medical information, such as Medicare, Medicaid, and/or Social Security numbers, over the phone.

Some of the scammers are threatening to terminate Medicare benefits unless the call recipient provides personal information over the phone.

Because these incoming calls appear to be legitimate on the recipient’s Caller ID, these scams are a particularly dangerous type of deception. The scammers are hoping they can trick potential victims into answering the phone by spoofing legitimate phone numbers.

For those who receive an unexpected phone call that displays the name of a local hospital, medical facility, doctor’s office, or public utility, the Attorney General recommends letting the call go to voicemail. Individuals can then call the hospital or utility directly – using a telephone number listed on an official website – to ask if they called.

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If an unsolicited caller requests personal information, such as SSNs or Medicare/Medicaid numbers, hang up immediately.

Medicare does not request personal information by telephone or make threatening calls. For questions regarding Medicare benefits, call Medicare at 1-800-Medicare (1-800-633-4227). TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048.

Report any suspected health-related scams to the Health Education and Advocacy Unit at 410-528-1840. Other suspected scams can be reported to the Mediation Unit’s consumer hotline at 410-528-8662. Hotline en español: 410-230-1712.

Anyone who has divulged personal information is advised to call the Identity Theft Unit at 410-576-6491 or idtheft@oag.state.md.us.

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