SHEFFIELD — Sheffield Police Chief Greg Ray said he's no longer surprised by the methods some people use to take advantage of innocent residents.
"It seems there are is always someone trying to scam someone out of something, and they can get creative," Ray said.
Ray said his department has been notified of two cases within the last week or so that involve someone claiming to work for Medicare trying to get personal information from elderly residents in the area.
"They were so convincing that one of the victims fell for it and gave them too much information," Ray said. "Thankfully, she because suspicious, contacted a family member and they had all of her banking accounts changed."
Ray said the public needs to be aware the scam is beginning to circulate in other places in region.
"The callers claim they need to update their files," Ray said.
Christie Yeiser, of the Better Business Bureau office in Florence, said Medicare does not contact anyone on the telephone.
"They already have the information they need," Yeiser said. "They will never ask for a checking account number." Michelle Mason, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of North Alabama, said her office has received complaints about the scams for nearly three years.
"They seem to target different areas of the region, but this is one of the scams we see constantly," Mason said. "They ask for bank account numbers and Social Security number. Once they get those numbers, they can wipe out an account very quickly." Mason said one person provided her Social Security number to the caller and that led to her Social Security check being deposited into a new bank account.
"They rerouted the check and put it on a prepared card before the victim new what was happening," Mason said.
Ray said a good rule to follow is to never give out any banking or personal information over the telephone.
"Most companies are not going to be upgrading information over the telephone," Ray said. "People need to always be aware that these type of scams are going on. I hate to think about someone getting caught in one of these and loosing everything they have." For more information on scams, call the BBB at 1-800-239-1642.
Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.