Mary MuellerOct 21, 2017, 12:24 amOct 23, 2017, 12:51 pm

Mail scam targets seniors; what to do if you fall victim

New City senior shares her ordeal of how thieves tried to get to her life savings

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NEW CITY — Elderly resident Daisy Sanchez never thought someone would try to get all of her savings.

"I have shed many tears over this," Sanchez says.

About two weeks ago, she received a piece of mail that informed her that a new back brace would be covered by Medicare. Sanchez had hurt her back just a few days prior and her doctor told her she needed a brace.

She called the number on the mailer and the person wanted her Medicare number, which is the social security number.

“It’s a coincidence that my doctor had promised me a back brace. And this is why I answered and told them all my personal information,” Sanchez says.

She only figured out she was victim to a mail scam when the man didn't sound right on the phone. But the damage was done.

This mail scam is one that's been targeting seniors across the country for years. Thieves prey on vulnerable seniors, many like Sanchez, who live on a fixed income.

Following the incident, she called the major credit monitoring firms and froze her accounts so that in this way no one could tap into her savings or apply for a loan.

“At my age it was very difficult to make all these phone calls that kept me up all night because every number that you call requires like an hours' attention,” Sanchez says.

Sanchez was brought to tears recounting the incident, feeling ashamed and embarrassment over the whole thing. But she says she wanted to speak out so it doesn't happen to someone else.

"We find that over one-third of seniors are victims of identity theft," says State Sen. David Carlucci. He says Sanchez was smart to freeze her credit. He's pushing for legislation that will make that process free to consumers. Sanchez had to pour out money each time to freeze and unfreeze her credit.

"This is something that’s so important and something that we could prevent, a lot of identity theft, if we are able to do this," Sen. Carlucci says.

Sanchez hasn't seen any money go missing from her accounts, but she's still fearful.

It's important to remember that Medicare representatives will never ask consumers for their personal information over the phone. To help consumers, Sen. Carlucci will have a free event about identity theft next week in New City.

If you believe you may have been a victim of identity theft experts recommend freezing your credit, double checking your statements for errors, and reporting the fraud.

Senator David Carlucci's event:
Wednesday, November 1, 2017
10:00 a.m.-11:30am
New city public library meeting room
2220 N. Main Street, New City 10956

You can report Medicare mail fraud to:
- Better Business Bureau www.bbb.org/scamtracker/us.
- The Federal Trade Commission www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/GettingStarted.
- The Dept. of Health and Human Services inspector general at 800-447-8477 or at https://oig.hhs.gov.

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