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Criminals Preying On Medicare Recipients In Central Texas

Updated: Tuesday, September 10 2013, 09:03 PM CDT

Crafty con artists trying to steal your identity.  The Federal Trade Commission ranks Texas third in the nation when it comes to identity theft.

Perhaps even more alarming is the worst of it is happening right here in Central Texas.

Texans living in Austin, Round Rock and San Marcos are getting slammed by unsavory solicitors pretending to be calling from Medicare.

The problem has gotten so bad Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is warning residents about it.

"They might catch them when they're not feeling well or they have multiple problems and aren't thinking straight," said Medicare recipient Jacqueline Cockerill.

The crooks are posing as concerned customer service agents calling to update personal account information.

"The frustrating part is the criminals were moving way faster than the government," said identity theft victim Ashley Stone.

What they're after is the person's Medicare member identification number which is the same as the victim's social.

Cautious seniors -- like Cockerill -- are catching on.

"Ordinarily no one would call and ask you for that," added Cockerill.

And with more than 3,000,000 Texans on Medicare, there are plenty of people to prey on.

"This is a massive problem that shows no sign of getting better," said fraud expert James Ratley.

So protect yourself:

 - Never give out your social security number to someone on the phone.

 - If you're pressed for your personal information, hang up. 

 - And remember, federal agencies -- like Medicare -- communicate by mail.

By Alex Boyer

Criminals Preying On Medicare Recipients In Central Texas

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Crime Prevention / Important Links

National Crime Prevention Council
Texas Crime Prevention Assn
University of Texas
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