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Lodi woman was targeted by attempted Medicare scam

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Posted: Saturday, August 18, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 7:41 am, Sat Aug 18, 2012.

Lodi resident Val Bertotti knew something was not right when a man on the phone told her new Medicare cards were being issued and then asked about her bank account information for her Social Security check.

Bertotti believes she was the target of a new phone scam where callers try to get bank account information to rob seniors.

On Friday, Bertotti received a call from a man whom she says spoke with a heavy Indian accent and did not immediately identify himself as a government employee. He listed her name, address and phone number.

He started explaining that new Medicare cards are being sent out in the mail. The unidentified man then said he wanted to confirm that her Social Security check was being deposited at Bank of America.

Even though she has her checking account with a different bank, Bertotti played along and said yes to see what the man would ask next. He read her an account number. When she said it was incorrect, he asked her for the correct number. She told him to put his question in writing, and he kept pressing her, insisting she give him the information over the phone.

That's when she hung up.

She looked up the phone number, and it was from Beaumont, Texas.

"Good lord, I may be on Medicare, but I'm not an idiot," she said.

Lodi police were not familiar with any scams involving Medicare cards, but advise everyone never to give out personal information, like where they bank or account numbers, on the phone or in an email, Sgt. David Griffin said.

Even letters can be of concern. If it doesn't look official, then do some research online before responding, Griffin said.

If a person is contacted by someone asking for personal information, he advises people to hang up, then use Google or another search engine to look up telephone numbers and addresses of the agency. Then, he said, people should call the offices directly to make sure they are talking to a government official.

For Bertotti, she knew once they refused to send a written letter, she was hanging up.

"I would think that if the government was going to issue a new Medicare card, wouldn't they issue us a letter?" she said.

Bertotti encourages other seniors to be suspicious and careful about what information they give out on the phone.

"Once he gets my checking account number, the only thing he doesn't have is my driver's license and my Social Security number," she said.

Contact reporter Maggie Creamer at maggiec@lodinews.com. Read her blog at www.lodinews.com/blogs/citybuzz.

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