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Kearns woman identifies phone scam, warns others

(Mark Wetzel, KSL TV)


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Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

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KEARNS — A Kearns woman detected a scammer when they called her Tuesday morning and threatened to discontinue her Medicare and Social Security.

Margaret Thompson, 71, said she was in her home Tuesday morning when she received a phone call from someone who claimed to be with the Social Security Administration.

"He says, 'They're changing your Medicare card, and we need to update our data so we get it correctly,' " Thompson said. "He says, ‘I have no way of knowing you're Margaret Thompson,' and I said ‘I have no way of knowing you're from social security'."

Thompson said that at first the phone call seemed legitimate because the caller had her banking routing number. However, then the man asked for her bank account number.

"And I said, ‘Oh no. I don't do that,' " Thompson said. "Flags were waving. He says, ‘Ma'am, I need it because when we change these cards, those are going to be your new identification numbers'. And I said, ‘This doesn't make any sense. I could change banks tomorrow, and those numbers would be useless'."

Thompson said she would not give the man her banking information and asked for his supervisor. She said the call continued for nearly 15 minutes.

"He got just instantly angry, and says he can cut off all my social security and I won't get my check next month, and he can cancel all my Medicare. All he had to do is push that button," Thompson said. "And I said ‘Fine, you push that button because I'm going to call Medicare.' And he hung up."

Thompson called the Medicare office and found out the call had been a scam.

"You know, when you smell a skunk, you smell a skunk. It doesn't matter if it has a yellow stripe, it's still a skunk," Thompson said.

Medicare employees suggested that Thompson should call her bank and phone company to trace the caller, as well as contact police and the media to spread the word.

"It was just a bad feeling up my spine," Thompson said. "I don't know what to tell you. I want this to come to an end. I want it stopped. I'm tired of people being hurt."

Banks have a routing number which is typically the same for all that particular banks customers. Officials said it is fairly easy for anyone to get a bank routing number. A scammer will then call people until a customer from that particular bank is found.

"This was totally believable, and he had enough information to begin with, that I really thought he was real," Thompson said. "Until he wanted the rest of my banking information, and I thought, 'You creep. I'm not giving it to you.' "

The Social Security Administration released the following statement to KSL:

If Social Security calls a person, our employees will always identify themselves as Social Security employees and will indicate the purpose of their call. If a member of the public receives a call from someone claiming to be a Social Security employee and it seems at all suspicious, the public can ask the caller for his or her name, work location, and telephone number. To confirm if the call is legitimate, they can hang up and call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday to verify.

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