Bryan Cohen Aug. 12, 2013, 7:12pm

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Legal Newsline) - West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey issued a warning Monday to disabled and elderly West Virginians about Medicare card and medical alert system scams.

In one of the scams, an unknown caller pretends to be with Medicare or another government office and tells the consumer his or her new Medicare card is in the mail. The caller says the consumer must set up direct deposit with a bank so the Medicare funds can be placed in the account and asks the consumer for banking information. The caller can then use that information to steal the person's identity.

Morrisey's Consumer Protection Division received more than 90 written complaints and numerous daily phone calls about this and other scams since the start of 2013.

"Most people know someone, be it a family member, friend or neighbor, who receives Medicare," Morrisey said. "Please alert them to these scams so they can be protected and avoid being harmed by a malicious stranger. Our office will do everything we can to stop these bad actors, but it is up to every one of us to work together to try to stop these thieves in their tracks."

Another scam targets the elderly and disabled with automated robocalls that offer medical alert systems. Consumers who answer get an automated message offering a medical alert system or an upgraded system. If the consumer presses "1," he or she is transferred to a live operator who asks for personal information.

Medicare information should only be provided to a person's doctor, doctor's office or other recipient approved by Medicare.

"Unfortunately dishonest people will always come up with new ways to try to steal money, and even the identities, of honest, hardworking members of our community, but there are certain hallmarks to always be on guard for - asking for your bank account number, credit card numbers and any personal identity numbers, such as your Social Security number or Medicare number," Morrisey said. "Even the savviest people occasionally fall victim to these types of calls because the person on the other end of the line can be very convincing."

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