Freida Lloyd of Jacksonville is no stranger to identity theft or credit card abuse, but a phone call Monday from a stranger saying her husband was getting a new Medicare card was a new attempt to solicit her private information.
“It was a scam phone call,” she said. “The caller asks for the person by name and tells you you're getting a new card.”
Because Lloyd usually deals with their insurance and other important paperwork, she told her husband, Leon, that she would handle the call.
“They had our phone number and asked me to verify our address, and I did – then he said, 'To be sure I am talking to the right person, I need to know what bank you use,'” Lloyd said, adding that when she refused to give out the information, “he just hung up.”
The man had a foreign accent and spoke good English, but his query about the couple's bank account set bells ringing in her head, and when he hung up, Lloyd contacted Medicare.
“Medicare says that when you hear from them, it's by mail, and they only send you a new card if you apply for one,” she said.
Mechele Agbayani Mills, president of the Better Business Bureau in Tyler, which serves Central East Texas, said the call the Lloyds fielded was clearly an attempt at identity theft.
“When it's an unsolicited call, (the caller) should never ask for bank information or personal information,” she said. “What some scam artists do is look through the phone book, searching for names (that might be common for certain generations, like seniors), then they'll call those people and ask for them by name.”
While people may be getting legitimate calls “because it's also Medicare Advantage enrollment time,” they need to use caution in dealing with callers, she said.
“The best way to deal with it is to not answer the phone. I know it sounds ridiculous, but if it's important, the caller will leave a message and a number so that you can call them back,” Mills said. “Because (scammers) have some information on you, it's used to build trust (and) they really try to confuse people on the phone.”
Another concerned resident recently contacted her about a similar situation, and Mills said her office contacted Medicare, who told her they were not issuing new cards to individuals.
“Those were obviously fraudulent calls” Lloyd and the other person received, she said, “because Medicare is not going to do that.”
Mills recommends that if someone happens to pick up and the caller wants personal information, “just hang up, or tell them 'I'm not giving you that information. Don't call here again.' But the safest thing to do is screen your calls.”
She also said not to rely solely on caller ID “because that information is easily spoofed,” but to find out more about the number on the screen. “Again, the best thing to do is to let the caller leave a message with a number. If it's legitimate, call back. If not, don't.”
Lloyd said she hopes that by sharing her experience, others will be more alert to scams from people seeking personal information by phone.
- Local News
Parade, other events canceled in Rusk
Several holiday events in Rusk have been postponed until next week due to inclement weather, according to the local Chamber of Commerce.
A memorial service for Lula Hamm, age 60, of Jacksonville, is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, December 21, 2013 at the Fellowship Bible Church on Hwy 79 in Jacksonville.
Nursery brings abundance of holiday plant to local area
Standing in the midst of a poinsettia-filled greenhouse at Color Spot Nurseries, two men work in tandem, carefully spraying adhesive on the plants' leaves that will hold fast an iridescent glitter being shaken upon them.
Area pastor announces bid for county commissioner
The Rev. Kenneth Cain of Jacksonville's Benson Memorial CME Church has filed to run as a Democrat for the Precinct 4 County Commissioner position currently occupied by incumbent Republican Byron Underwood.
Fletcher resigns county court seat
Craig Fletcher, whose seven-year career as Cherokee County Court at Law Judge includes helping tighten laws against violent sex offenders, intends to resign his position next week, officials confirmed Friday.
Residents have hard time finding voting location
A great many local residents who turned up at the Jacksonville Public Library to cast ballots in Tuesday's Jacksonville ISD and state constitutional amendment elections apparently were unaware they were in the wrong place to vote.
- Festivals and all kinds of fun stuff round out month’s events in Cherokee County
Grand Champion hay producer
This year's Cherokee County Hay Show & Sale, held Tuesday at the Cherokee County Exposition Center in Jacksonville, raised approximately $14,000, part of which will benefit a scholarship fund for county students.
97-year-old Ponta resident is ‘blessed’
Despite a recent bout with breast cancer and losing both a child and a grandchild to different illnesses, 97-year-old Ponta resident Elna Perkins is quick to point out that her life has been filled with blessings.
Public meeting today to help explain health care act
Stephanie Raymer, a Regional Partnership Specialist with the Health and Human Services Commission, will field questions about the Affordable Care Act during a 10 a.m. session Thursday at First Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville.
- More Local News Headlines
- Parade, other events canceled in Rusk