Tuesday Jul 03 2012
Obamacare medical card scam strikes in Placer County
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
Thief uses phone lines, new federal healthcare move in attempt to bilk Loomis senior
AUBURN CA - With a Supreme Court ruling in favor of the federal Affordable Care Act, a crook was at work in Placer County attempting to put a fresh spin on the old medical-card scam. But 72-year-old Judy Littlefield of Loomis was smart enough to see through the woolen veil of deceit the voice on the other end of the line was trying to pull over her eyes. The retired teacher said Tuesday that when the insistent caller started asking her for credit-card or Social-Security numbers to receive what he described as a new ?Obamacare medical card,? she quickly hung up the phone. Now she wants to warn others who may fall prey to a variation of a medical-card fraud scheme that continues to be played out on phone lines throughout the country. The caller claims to represent a legitimate government agency or health provider and is planning to send out a new medical card. But the caller needs a checking account number or Social Security number to confirm identification. The duped victim who turns over the information receives no new medical card and soon finds strange charges on a credit-card bill ? or worse, serious identify theft issues to untangle. ?They said they were with Obamacare and had medical cards covering everything,? Littlefield said. ?What blew the whistle for me was they said the card was for everybody in my family. I?m not that stupid.? After hanging up, Littlefield called the Placer County Sheriff?s Office to report the scam attempt. Sheriff?s spokeswoman Dena Erwin said Tuesday that investigators are particularly interested in reports where an actual theft has occurred. Fraud prevention is the key and that includes knowing not to give out information over the phone to callers seeking numbers that could result in identity theft. ?Never give out information out over the phone unless you?ve made the contact,? Erwin said. That includes banking and Social Security information, she said. If someone is victimized, they should contact the Sheriff?s Office business line ? not 9-1-1. For Littlefield, the suspicion is there that while she was wary enough to avoid divulging account and personal numbers, there may be others out there potentially not so lucky. ?I want to warn people because if they?re targeting senior citizens, this could be very bad,? Littlefield said.