Bryan Cohen Jan. 24, 2013, 8:03pm

RICHMOND, Virginia (Legal Newsline) - Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services recently warned Virginians of a Medicare scam affecting beneficiaries across the state.

Cuccinelli warned Virginians to protect their personal identify after multiple bogus calls to Medicare beneficiaries in which callers threaten to terminate coverage or Social Security checks if recipients refuse to give them personal information. The information requested by the unsolicited telephone calls includes Social Security numbers, Medicare numbers, bank account numbers, credit or debit card numbers, or their date of birth.

"It is critical to remember to never give out your personal or financial information when someone initiates a call to you," Cuccinelli said. "Instead, hang up and call the number for the organization that's published in the phone book, so you can be sure you are talking to the right people. If you suspect you've been a victim of medical identity theft, contact the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-HHS-TIPS."

Medical identity thieves use high-pressure tactics to obtain personal information in an effort to scam the Medicaid beneficiaries.

Because the calls are taking place during the Medicare enrollment period and as Medicare Advantage insurance information begins to arrive in the mail, some beneficiaries may think the calls are legitimate.

Virginia's Senior Medicare Patrol also cautions caregivers and beneficiaries about recent calls regarding telemarketing calls for free life alert systems accompanied by personal information requests.

Cuccinelli and DARS will be releasing TV and radio public service announcements later in January to alert Medicare recipients and families about the scams.

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