Telemarketer Targets Seniors for Personal Data

July 05, 2011

RICHMOND, Va. – The Better Business Bureau (BBB) reports a growing number of complaints about telemarketers attempting to obtain Social Security numbers and other personal data from seniors.


“We’ve been getting a lot of complaints about this since the first of the year.   We’re concerned that the numbers appear to be growing,” said Tom Gallagher, president and CEO of the BBB serving Central Virginia.


In most of the cases, the caller informs the senior that he or she has won a free scooter (power wheelchair).  In order to obtain the scooter, the “winner” must provide his or her Social Security number and Medicare information. 


Gallagher said the caller sometimes identifies himself as being with a power wheelchair company.  Other times, the caller says he is a representative of Medicare.


Gallagher said all of the calls are coming from a single telephone number in Northern Virginia.  The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office is investigating.


Gallagher urged consumers to be skeptical of free offers, particularly when those offers come over the phone from an anonymous source.  “Above all, never release personal information to people you don’t know,” he said.  “Simply hang up on the caller.”


The BBB administers an ongoing program to educate seniors on current scams in the community.  Seniors should report any scams to the BBB’s Senior Fraud  Hotline at 804-780-2222.


The BBB in Central Virginia serves Richmond and Tri-Cities, as well as 42 surrounding counties, from Fauquier to Mecklenburg and Northumberland to Amherst. The nonprofit organization was established in 1954 to advance responsible, honest and ethical business practices and to promote customer confidence through self-regulation of business. Core services of the BBB include business reliability reports, dispute resolution, truth-in advertising, consumer and business education and charity review.