From Montana SMP 

Two weeks ago a man in Havre gave out his Social Security number to a scammer. This week a woman in Great Falls became another victim. Calls are being received across the state of Montana by persons pretending to be Social Security Administration employees. The intent of these calls is to steal the victim’s identity and/or money directly from their bank account. 

The calls often sound official and are designed by con-artists to get around their victim’s logic and caution by creating a sense of urgency and fear. Various versions have been reported throughout Montana: claiming the recipient’s Social Security number has been suspended due to suspicious activity; talking about enrollment in the Medicare prescription drug program; or offering a lower-cost health plan if someone in the person’s family had cancer. 

“It is important for Montanans to be aware of the existence of these potentially life-altering scams so our citizens, particularly those in our most vulnerable populations can protect themselves and their livelihoods,” said Renee Labrie-Shanks, Montana SMP Program Manager with Missoula Aging Services. The following are simple steps all Montanans can take to protect themselves and their loved ones: 

• Never answer the phone if you don’t recognize the number. If it is important the caller will leave a message.

• If you do answer the phone, do not press one, do not engage in dialogue about your personal life, and do not under any circumstances give out your Social Security number, your Medicare number, your bank account number, your birthdate or any other personal information.

If you suspect someone of impersonating the Social Security Administration, call the SSA OIG Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271 with caller’s alleged name, telephone number, time and date call was made, and information requested by the caller. If you have given out personal information, call your local Montana SMP at 1-800-551-3191.

Montana SMP is a statewide program designed to educate consumers about healthcare fraud, waste and abuse prevention. Missoula Aging Services administers the program throughout the state. 

For more information on this scam and how it is impacting the lives of Montanans, contact Missoula Aging Services at (406) 728-7682.

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