An elderly Cache Valley resident received a series of scam phone calls last week from someone who appeared to have access to her medical records, and she wants to warn fellow seniors to be on guard.
Janice Saunders, a resident of Maple Springs retirement community, said she initially was taken in by the calls because the individual contacting her had her doctor’s name and other personal health information. The caller said he needed to update Saunders’ hospital card, but when a request was made for her Medicare number, alarm bells went off and she hung up.
That wasn’t enough for the person on the other end of the line. The calls kept coming from the same individual but different phone numbers throughout the morning.
“People my age need to be aware this is going on,” Saunders said. “I’m fairly savvy, but I was harassed this whole morning. I should have told them where to go and how to get there and not answered my phone after the first call. That is the bottom line.”
The official webpage of Medicare instructs program members not to share their Medicare numbers or other personal information with anyone who contacts them by phone or email.
“Plans don’t need your personal information. If someone calls you and asks for your Medicare number or other personal information, hang up and call us at 1-800-MEDICARE,” the website advises.
How the caller had Saunders’ medical information is a mystery. Although a scammer might be able to guess what an elderly person is seeing a doctor for, using the actual name of someone’s doctor suggests stolen information.
“They wanted to verify this and verify that. They had all this information about my doctor and my pain problems. I mean, they had it all,” she said.
Saunders’ physician is on the staff of Intermountain Healthcare, and it so happens IHC had a data breach earlier this year, but published reports about the incident say none of the compromised files involved the organization’s facilities in Utah or Idaho.
According to a report from Health IT News, four specialty clinics in southern Nevada were the only sites affected.