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Governor, director warn older Ohioans about phone scams

“Unfortunately, older adults are one of the most targeted groups for scammers,” Gov. Mike DeWine said.
Scam alert 12122019
File photo

COLUMBUS — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Insurance Director Jillian Froment issued a consumer alert to warn older Ohioans of two telephone scams targeting them in an attempt to steal their personal information.

“Unfortunately, older adults are one of the most targeted groups for scammers,” DeWine said in a news release. “We want to make sure older Ohioans are armed with the information they need to protect themselves in case they receive a suspicious call.”

“We have been informed by several of our stakeholder partners of scams seeking to take advantage of our older Ohioan population,” Froment said. “I urge people to be extremely cautious when deciding to share their personal information and to consider contacting organizations directly to initiate conversation and information sharing.”

Social Security account number suspended scam

Medicare beneficiaries are receiving recorded phone calls that appear on caller ID as if they are from the Social Security Administration. The message states that the person’s Social Security account has been suspended and to press 1 for more information. Pressing 1 does connect the person with the SSA, but a scammer is on the line ready to steal personal information the person may share with the SSA. The SSA will not call a beneficiary unless the person requested a call from the SSA. A beneficiary can always call the SSA at 800-269-0271 to verify the legitimacy of a situation they encounter. More information is available here.

Retirement organization prepaid funeral account scam

Ohio Public Employee Retirement System members are receiving phone calls from a scammer saying they are with VIA Benefits and are in need of personal information to establish the member’s prepaid funeral account. VIA Benefits, which does provide certain insurance services, is not making such calls. Members who receive these calls can call VIA Benefits at 844-287-9945 or OPERS at 800-222-7377.

The Ohio Department of Insurance provides educational information for Medicare beneficiaries through its Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program, regulates insurance products, and monitors the marketplace for insurance fraud and professional misconduct, among many other duties.

Ohioans can call the department’s fraud and enforcement hotline at 800-686-1527 or contact nonprofit Pro Seniors and its fraud-fighting Ohio Senior Medicare Patrol at 800-488-6070 if they suspect wrongdoing or have been victimized.