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Office of Consumer Protection

SCAMS

Medicare/DNA Test Scam:

Do it yourself DNA test kits are growing ever more popular. But a new scam is using these kits as means of stealing Medicare and other personal information. These scammers may approach you by phone, at your door, or even at health or community fairs. How does the scam work? First, the scammers offer genetic testing cheek swabs as a ploy to get victims’ Medicare or health insurance information, promising the cost of the test will be covered. But instead, the scammers use the consumers’ personal details to steal their identities. The scammers “can now bill Medicare thousands of dollars for medically unnecessary tests or even services that you never received,” according to the Oregon Attorney General.

Woodchuck/Unlicensed Contractors Alert:

National Consumer Protection Week is March 4-10, 2018.  Please visit the Office of Consumer Protection this week on Facebook and Twitter as we bring you more tips and warnings about common scams.  Read More ...

Scam Rentals:

Rental customers should be aware that scam listings can be found online. These could either be hijacked ads for real  rental units but directed to a wrong telephone number, rental ads for property that is owned by another, or where there is no rental unit in the first place. Red flags are (1) where the landlord or agent will not meet you in person, (2) rush you into signing a lease and paying a deposit without seeing the property, (3) insist on using difficult to trace forms of payment, e.g., wiring money, or (4) the rent price seems too good to be true. The scammers are after your deposit and all the personal information that you are asked to disclose in the lease agreement.

County Telephone Scam:

Montgomery County Government informed residents about a telephone spoofing scam that is taking place in our area. Several County residents have reported receiving calls from scammers who are fraudulently using County telephone numbers (240-773-xxxx and 240-777-xxxx).  The OCP has received similar complaints from consumers who state that the call is a recorded sales pitch or an effort to collect on non-existent student loans. Please know that county staff will leave a message stating the reason for their call.  If you receive a scam call from a County telephone number, please report it to MC311 by dialing 3-1-1- or by visiting  MC311.com .

Water Quality Scam :

The water filter scam comes in many variations.  With the increased concern over the tap water purity, county residents have reported various entities offering to test your water.  These scammers pose as the Environmental Protection Agency conducting surveys, as  authorized WSSC   representatives, or simply are unnamed companies providing a “free” service to residents.  The EPA is concerned that those posing as the EPA may be focusing on Spanish-speaking communities.  These scammers come door-to-door and conduct “tests” in your living room which purport to show you how your water is contaminated.  They may even leave vials at your door with  notes   on how to have your water tested later.  To obtain information about the EPA’s drinking water regulations and general information about drinking water, you may contact the  EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline.

Equifax Data Breach:

​With the breach of at least 143 million American consumers' sensitive data, hackers now have access to names, SSN, DOBs, addresses as well as some driver's license and credit card account numbers.  The  Consumer Finance Protection Bureau  has good information on what identity theft is and what signs to look for to see if you have been victimized.  The  Federal Trade Commission provides details on what you can do to protect yourself from identity theft in the wake of this breach.  Beware of a  phone scam where criminals call  you pretending to be Equifax.  Equifax is not calling 143 million people regarding the breach or credit monitoring plans.

Medicare Card Phone Scams: 

With new Medicare cards coming starting in April 2018, new phone scams are expected. In fact, starting in February 2018, authorities have reported scam calls from "MEDICARE" stating that a temporary card needs to be ordered for a $5-$50 fee.  However, CMS states that the new card will automatically come to you and that MEDICARE will not call you.

 

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