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WV scam targets diabetes patients

By Whitney Burdette, Capitol reporter

Scammers are targeting West Virginia’s diabetics.

Attoreny General Patrick Morrisey issued a statement Tuesday warning people of the new scam, in which a person receives an unsolicited phone call offering free diabetic supplies, including testing devices. The caller asks for personal information, such as the target’s name, address and Medicare number for billing purposes. In some instances, the supplies never arrive.

Morrisey’s office recently received a report from an elderly woman who fell victim to the scam. The caller, allegedly representing a diabetic pharmacy, told the woman she was eligible for free diabetic supplies, including new testing devices. The woman provided the caller with the requested information, but the supplies never arrived. When the woman attempted to reach the company at the number provided, no one answered or returned her call. The woman cannot find any other means to contact the company.

Morrisey said it is shameful for scammers to target the elderly population, which generally lives on fixed incomes.

“Many of our senior citizens are on fixed incomes and are looking for help to offset out-of-pocket costs they may have,” he said. “It’s sad there are people who would exploit a person’s desire to save money by scamming them, as well as the government, out of thousands of dollars.”

A person’s Medicare number is often the same as their Social Security number. Once scammers have that number and other identifying information, they may be able to steal the victim’s identity or order health care supplies and services in the victim’s name.

“It is important to read over your Medicare statements very carefully,” Morrisey said. “Check for things like being billed for items you didn’t order or receive or being billed multiple times for certain items.”

Consumers can take the following steps to protect their identities:

Read every statement or letter that comes from your doctor or health insurance provider, even those that say “this is not a bill.” It may be a way to identify charges for treatment not ordered or received.

Avoid email or online offers for free testing supplies that may not be legitimate. Work with doctors or reputable groups to help secure low-cost or free supplies.

Contact the insurance company if you notice questionable charges on a letter or bill.

Rather than carry your health insurance card with you, make a photo copy and black out all but the last four digits of the number. Keep the official card in a safe location.

Notify the insurance provider immediately if you notice your card is missing.

Potential victims of this scam are urged to call West Virginia Senior Medicare Patrol at 800-799-4638. Victims of identity theft are asked to call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 800-368-8808 or file a complaint online at www.wvago.gov.

Contact writer Whitney Burdette at 304-348-7939 or whitney.burdette@dailymailwv.com. Follow her at www.Twitter.com/wburdette_DM.


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