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Appalachian Agency for Senior Citizens (AASC) would like to remind seniors to be on high alert for Medicare scammers.

Virginians are warned to protect their personal identity information following a spate of bogus calls to Medicare beneficiaries across the commonwealth in which callers threaten to terminate coverage or cut off Social Security checks if recipients refuse to provide the requested information.

The Office of the Attorney General joins the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) in advising Medicare participants who receive one of the fraudulent calls to refuse to give personal information such as Medicare or Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, credit or debit card numbers, or their date of birth in response to unsolicited telephone calls. “It is critical to remember to never give out your personal or financial information when someone initiates a call to you. Instead, hang up and call the number for the organization that’s published in the phone book, so you can be sure you are talking to the right people,” said Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. “If you suspect you’ve been a victim of medical identity theft, contact the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-HHS-TIPS.”

Medical identity thieves use high pressure tactics to obtain Medicare and Social Security numbers, bank account information, or private insurance information. Callers try to confuse people into believing they represent the government or private insurers and threaten the loss of Social Security or Medicare coverage if beneficiaries refuse to cooperate. It is critical to remember to not release any personal information unless you have placed a call to a specific organization such as the Social Security Administration or your personal bank.

“Unfortunately, during the Medicare enrollment period, scammers will try to take advantage of older Virginians,” said DARS commissioner Jim Rothrock. “It’s important for beneficiaries to understand that Medicare will never call them to ask for personal information, including bank account or Social Security numbers.”

AASC is one of Virginia’s 25 Area Agencies on Aging designated by the Virginia Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services to carry out the department’s mission to foster the dignity, independence and security of older Virginians by promoting partnerships with communities at the local level. AASC offers information and services for older adults residing in Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell and Tazewell counties. Visit the organization’s website at www.aasc.org or call toll-free at 1-800-656-2272.