ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — As numerous Virginians eagerly await that phone call saying they’re eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, Carilion Clinic is warning of a recent uptick in complaints about phone calls from scammers illegally “spoofing” Carilion phone numbers and trying to commit Medicare fraud or trick people into sharing personal information.
According to Carilion Clinic, phone scammers often disguise their identity by using illegal spoofing techniques to send false information to your caller ID display. In order to increase the chances that people will answer the phone, spoofers may use local area codes, use familiar-looking numbers, or even impersonate a local organization.
Health officials offered a few examples of recent scam calls illegally spoofing Carilion’s phone numbers:
- The scammer said they were calling from a medical practice and asked if the person on the line was having knee or back pain.
- The scammer offered braces, blood sugar measuring devices, or other medical devices, claiming they would be covered by Medicare.
- The scammer said they were working for an outsourced company that works with the Veterans Administration and needed to set up an exam for the patient.
- The scammer said they worked for a lab and the person on the phone had an overdue bill.
Keep in mind that a legitimate call from Carilion will be one patients are already expecting related to recent or upcoming appointments.
However, if you see “Carilion” on the caller ID but the actual caller sounds like a salesperson or seems suspicious, hang up and call your Carilion provider or the main Carilion number at (800) 422-8482 to verify the legitimacy of the call.
Since it can be hard to tell determine whether or not a call is spoofed just by looking at the caller ID, Carilion Clinic offered the following tips to help people protect themselves from phone scams:
- Never give out personal information — such as your Social Security number, Medicare number, password, mother’s maiden name, etc. — in response to unexpected or suspicious calls.
- If you answer the phone and the caller isn’t who you expected, hang up.
- If you answer the phone and are asked to hit a button to stop getting the calls, hang up.
- Do not respond to any questions, especially those that can be answered with “yes” or “no.”
- Use caution if you are being pressured for information.
- If you have a voicemail account with your phone service, set a password for it.
- If you think you’ve been the victim of a spoofing scam, you can file a complaint with the FCC.
Carilion officials also encouraged people not to answer calls from unknown numbers. However, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) says there have been issues with scheduling COVID-19 vaccination appointments because people are ignoring calls from unknown numbers, not knowing that Virginia’s vaccination coordinators are waiting on the other end.