Be on the alert for scams

Residents are asked to be on the look-out for a scam appearing to come from a government office.

Candy Zarcone is a Medicare counselor with the CLAIM/State Health Insurance Assistance Program. On Friday, Zarcone said she received an email from CLAIM warning of a serious fraud scam.

The email states the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) confirmed that the HHS OIG Hotline telephone number is being used as part of a telephone spoofing scam targeting individuals throughout the country. 

According to the alert, the scammers represent themselves as HHS OIG Hotline employees and can alter the appearance of the caller ID to make it seem as if the call is coming from the HHS OIG Hotline 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477). The perpetrator may use various tactics to obtain or verify the victim’s personal information, which can then be used to steal money from an individual’s bank account or for other fraudulent activity. HHS OIG takes this matter seriously.

The office is actively investigating this matter and intend to have the perpetrators prosecuted.

The office reminds the community it is important to know that HHS OIG will not use the HHS OIG Hotline telephone number to make outgoing calls and individuals should not answer calls from 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477).

“We encourage the public to remain vigilant, protect their personal information, and guard against providing personal information during calls that purport to be from the HHS OIG Hotline telephone number,” the email alert states. “We also remind the public that it is still safe to call into the HHS OIG Hotline to report fraud. We particularly encourage those who believe they may have been a victim of the telephone spoofing scam to report that information to us through the HHS OIG Hotline 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477) or spoof@oig.hhs.gov. Individuals may also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).”

Zarcone said there are no reports of the scam locally.

A link to the office’s Consumer Alerts webpage can be found at oig.hhs.gov/fraud/consumer-alerts/alerts/phone-scam.asp.

Shawnna Robinson is the managing editor of the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-518-3628 or srobinson@farmingtonpressonline.com

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