AUSTIN (KXAN) - Hellen Von Miller was just minding her business one day when the phone rang.
"It was a very compelling call, sounded legitimate," Von Miller recalled. "'You will be receiving a new Medicare card in the mail, I just need to verify your personal information.'
"He said he had all my information," she added. "All I had to do was verify. He wanted numbers."
But she smelled a rat and offered him some information of her own.
"I told him I will call Medicare and verify his call." Von Miller said. "He hung up.''
The exchange with the stranger on the phone prompted Von MIller, an Austin senior citizen, to contact the KXAN Tipline. She knew that you never give your private information out to strangers over the telephone, but wanted to make sure others understood the rule as well.
Erin Rodriguez of the Better Business Bureau said Von Miller did exactly what she should have done.
"You never give your personal information over the phone, especially when it was a call not initiated by you," he said.
KXAN learned the Center for Medicare and Medicaid will never call asking for personal information, nor are they renewing cards. You only need to contact them to update a change of address.
The BBB's Rodriguez says Hellen did the right thing, "You'll find with these scammers if you start asking questions, if you say you'll call them back, that scares them off, causing them to hang up and leave you alone."
Austin police referred Hellen to consumer fraud bureaus that could put a security alert on her accounts, by writing equifax.com or experian.com.
She says she didn't like being the target of a scam, "It was a tad scary, because it was so convincing."
Online help for protecting yourself
- StopMedicateFraud.com -- if you suspect your a target of a scam.
- Common scams to steal your identity
- Video tutorial to detect Medicare fraud
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