A few weeks ago, I was visiting my 85-year-old mom at her house, and we were watching one of her favorite game shows when the news came on. Headlining was a new scam that was being foisted on Medicare recipients. This prompted the following from her:
“You know, I get phone calls every single day with people trying to steal information or money from me. Since your dad died, it seems like they’ve figured out I’m a widow, and the calls have increased a lot.”
“I’m really sorry to hear that, Mom. You know, we can get your phone number changed if you like,” I offered. (She’s had the same land-line number since 1960.)
“It’s not that; it just makes me really sad that these folks work so hard, go to so much effort, just to do something illegal, immoral and take advantage of people. If they worked half that hard doing something that was legal, they’d be hugely successful, but for some reason they choose to use their talents and all the skills that God has given them to cheat people, and that makes me sad,” she said quietly. I nodded my agreement.
Mom’s right, of course. But the scammers are not listening to her sage advice. In fact, they seem to be working twice as hard to do the opposite and become more efficient thieves. Here’s the latest example of a scam that several Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana members have reported recently. Our fraud investigation team is monitoring this one, and I want you to be aware of it.
Scam Phone Numbers Are Spoofing Real Blue Cross Member Customer Service Lines
Some enterprising criminal scammers are using fake Blue Cross member customer service phone numbers as their latest attempt to steal from you.
These scammers set up a number one digit off from the real Blue Cross member customer service lines. When members dial the number thinking they are reaching Blue Cross, they get a message about a special offer they need to “act now!” to take advantage of. Offers include buying $100 grocery or restaurant gift cards at a discount or signing up for programs and services at a reduced price. The members are asked to enter their credit or debit card information for the offer while waiting on hold to speak with a customer service representative. This gives the scammers access to YOUR financial information.
Don’t let this happen to you. Here are some important tips that can help protect you from these thieves:
How to Protect Yourself from Fraud and Scams:
- Blue Cross will not make you special offers that you need to pay extra for when you call us. Your covered benefits, and any programs, services or plan extras you get as a member, will be clearly outlined in your health plan coverage information.
- Don’t be pressured to act quickly. Offers for a very limited time that you have to pay for now or lose are a red flag. Take time to look into it and see if the offer is legit. Don’t let yourself feel rushed – scammers try to trick you before you can think it through.
- Be suspicious whenever ANYONE asks you for money or for your personal, financial or health information. Be especially suspicious if it’s unexpected, like getting an automated message about special deals for one day only when you call your health plan.
- Dial carefully when trying to reach Blue Cross to make sure the number is correct. If in doubt, or if something feels off, hang up and dial again. If you have an agent you’ve worked with for your health plan, you can reach out to them and ask for help, too.
If you think you have been a victim of fraud or someone has attempted to scam you, report it to our Blue Cross Fraud Hotline at 1-800-392-9249. The sooner you report it, the sooner we can help you. And the better we can prevent it from happening to someone else.
You also report suspected fraud at Tips.FBI.Gov or IC3.Gov or 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324).
The Straight Talk is, we live in a world where a certain group of people have dedicated themselves, quite creatively, to stealing from you. Let’s all get smarter and make it harder for them to do so. Mom would definitely approve!