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Scammers tap hotline to target seniors information

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General recently announced its hotline telephone number is being used to obtain personal information.

The scammers represent themselves as hotline employees and alter the appearance of the caller ID to make it look like the call is coming from the hotline. After obtaining personally-identifying information, the scammers can then steal money from bank accounts or use it for other fraudulent purposes.

What you need to know:

* The hotline never makes outgoing calls.

* If you receive a phone call from (800) 447-8477, do not answer the call.

* Never give personally-identifying information like your social security number, date of birth, credit card or bank account numbers, driver's license number, or mother's maiden name to anyone over the phone.

* It is still safe to call in to the hotline number to report fraud.

If you believe you have been a victim of these scammers, you should report your case to the hotline or email You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at (877) 382-4357. Be sure to include the date and time your received the scam call.

This article was submitted by Brenda Kohel, elder benefit specialist for Senior Connections.