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New scams target people eligible for healthcare assistance

By Jonathan Radford, jradford@wcyb.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 10:26:33 AM CST
Updated On: Oct 15 2013 04:02:03 PM CDT
Russell County Sheriff Car
RUSSELL COUNTY, Va. -

There are a number of scams in our region that target seniors, but the latest scam is now targeting seniors who need healthcare assistance.

Over the past few weeks as people across the nation have tried to gain a greater understanding of the new Affordable Healthcare Act, but the Russell County Sheriff tells News 5 scammers have been hard at work trying to make a fortune from people who don't understand the changes.

Cindy Ball is still trying to figure out how her mother became the target of a phone scam. She described the conversation that started it all. "She said, 'Hello Miss Hess?' My sister said, 'Yes, this is Miss Hess,' because she takes care of all of my mother's finances and business. The lady said, 'I need to verify your information to send you a new Medicare card,'" said Ball.

Ball tells News 5 the call was taken seriously because her mother is on Medicare, but one question raised a red flag. "When she verified everything, then the lady proceeded to say, 'I need to verify your bank name. And my sister began to ask her questions like, 'Why do you need my bank name to send me a Medicare card?' At that point the lady hung up," said Ball.

Ball told News 5 that authorities informed her that is a new and growing scam that is happening the Honaker area of Russell County.

We spoke with Russell County Sheriff Steve Dye and he tells News 5 this new scam is part of a group of scams that is targeting people who may be eligible for healthcare assistance under the new Affordable Healthcare Act, especially the elderly. "It's such a hot topic. Healthcare is something that is so important to people. This is so confusing at this point, in the beginning no one really understands it and knows exactly what's going on and what they need to do," said Sheriff Dye.

Sheriff Dye gave News 5 a list of some of the most-reported scams; they include an Obamacare card scam, an information update scam, a fake navigators scam, a fake coverage and mandatory payment scam, and a fake Healthcare.gov website scam.

Sheriff Dye also told News 5 when you are looking for information concerning healthcare, click here or contact your healthcare provider. No matter what, don't give any personal information over the phone.

As for Ball, she's glad the conversation stopped as soon as it did. "I just want everyone else to know so that they won't put themselves into a position that they may get a lot of money taken from them, or be in danger of this scam happening to them," said Ball.

Authorities also told us that if you receive a call from a possible scammer, do not call the number back -- if you do, you could rack up charges on your phone bill. They have seen some charges as high as $70.