Knoxville woman warns community about scam

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Scammers call a woman "stupid" when she refuses to give into their demands.

Now, she's fighting back to make sure it doesn't happen to you.

A person claiming to be with Medicare made the mistake of calling Anna Smith.

The 77 year-old south Knoxville woman wasn't fooled, catching on quickly and calling us.

AARP tells Local 8 News older men and women are often targeted because they tend to be nicer to callers, and they don't slam doors.

But that wasn't the case for Smith.

She spends retirement days enjoying the sun with her husband from their covered deck that oversees the street. The phone always near by, and on Monday, it rang.

Smith said it was a man saying he needed to send her a new Medicare card.

"(He said) I'm from Medicare, I need your bank number. I need where you bank," said Smith.

Then, he asked for her checking account number.

"He said, 'Are you stupid? Don't you want a new Medicare card?' And I said I am not giving you my number," said Smith.

Smith hung up the phone, but felt violated.

"Our generation is taught to trust, and when someone knocks on your door, you're trusting them. Or they're calling you, your first instinct is be kind," said Smith.

"Older people tend to be more polite, because they have a harder time hanging up or slamming the door in your face. Sometimes they're alone and want to talk to someone and these scammers prey on that," said Karin Miller, the communications director for AARP in Tennessee.

Miller says in 2011, there were 26,011 complaints of consumer fraud in Tennessee, and people were scammed out of $24,283,978 total.

It's a growing problem, and you should be cautious about giving out personal information. Especially if someone calls, claiming they're from Medicare.

"Medicare will never reach out to you and say that they need information to send you a new card because they already have your information. They have your address. They don't ever need to be reaching out to you in that way, never ever," said Miller.

"If this will help someone then I will do this, I will report this, because this shouldn't happen to us," said Smith.

You can report a scammer to the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-438-4338, or the Consumers Affairs Division in Tennessee at 1-800-342-8385.

The FTC reports since 2000, the number of identity theft and fraud complaints has risen 800%.

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