Posted: Dec 20, 2013 4:57 PM
Updated: Dec 20, 2013 5:05 PM
WESLACO - Texas Health and Human Services Commission officials are warning Medicaid beneficiaries not to call the old 1-888 telephone number on their cards. They said someone is using it to steal personal information.
The old number is on approximately 800,000 Medicaid cards. The state does not use the number anymore.
A Weslaco woman said she fell victim to a Social Security benefits scheme when she called the number. She said her personal information was compromised.
"I thought it was going to be safe because it's the state," she said.
The medical coverage for the Weslaco woman changed, so she called the number on the card.
"To speak to somebody from the state and get issued a new card, so I could be able to go to the doctor," she said.
The woman instead got a mysterious promotions department.
"Congratulations! You've been selected for a $100 Walmart gift card. In order to process your Walmart gift we will need to transfer you to a live representative," the recorded message said.
The person on the other end told her he would order her a replacement card after she completed the gift-card procedure.
The woman gave the man her personal information for her Social Security benefits.
"I don't know if I'm going to get my money next month," she said.
The woman is holding on to faith.
"I believe in God, and know he won't let me down," she said.
The state's websites did not have any information about the 1-888 number.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS called HHSC.
State officials said fewer people should have the cards with the old number. They said many medical providers no longer accept the card because the Medicaid process in the state is changing.
The state alerted the state attorney general's office.
Walmart reported that it does not solicit for gift cards. Store officials said the company never asks for personal information through phone calls or hotlines. The HHSC said they never run gift-card programs. They said government workers never ask for credit card numbers over the phone.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS reached out to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to get a comment about possible fraud involving an old phone number on Medicaid card. The agency issued the following statement:
We have reported the incident today to the HHSC Office of Inspector General for investigation. We are reporting it to the Attorney General Consumer Fraud division as well. We also ask anyone else who called that number and had a similar experience to call the OIG hotline.
Cards containing the 1-888-302-6688 number on the front are from a Medicaid program that was phased out in the spring of 2012. HHSC ran a phone message on the 1-888-302-6688 number for two months informing clients the plan was ending and how to get a new card. The line was disconnected on 5/7/2012.
There were approximately 800,000 people on that plan who would have been using a card with that 888# on the front. The number of people who still have that card today with that 888# on it should be small. Most providers would not accept a card that old.
The OIG hotline number for reporting suspected fraud is 1-800-436-6184.
All members of PCCM Medicaid program were notified of the change to Managed Care and given opportunity to select a Managed Care Organization. If a selection was not provided within 90 days an MCO was assigned to the member.
All members would have received a new card or contact info from their new plan by the 90 day mark.
Once the phone line was inactivated by AT&T it was no longer in state control.
Health care providers are required to verify member eligibility and MCO affiliation.
Providers would not have accepted a PCCM card. However, not having an MCO card does not prevent a member from being served as providers can call and verify eligibility.
We want people to know that HHSC would not run a gift card giveaway program and would never ask for a credit card number or any other confidential numbers over the phone. So please beware if that occurs.