In the state of Texas, approximately 1.5 million residents utilize the federally funded healthcare system known as Medicare. It is also estimated that, based on national averages, 16% of Americans have been victims of an online scam or attempted identity theft. That means approximately 240,000 medicare recipients could find themselves victims of a scam that's currently racing across the nation.

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Staff Photo
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Just to put that into perspective the amount of potential scam victims from the Plastic Medicare Scam is just slightly larger than the population of the city of Frisco, Texas. That's a lot of scamming and unfortunately, it's a scam that targets our most vulnerable citizens.

The Federal Trade Commission says that across the nation scammers are posing as Medicare agents and offering to create a "durable" Medicare card made of plastic. The selling point is that the card won't get torn or decay with age as a paper card, like your Social Security card, is probably doing.

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The scammers sweeten the deal by offering to send those who "take advantage of the offer" a free "Medicare-approved" back or knee brace.  All you have to do is give the scammer your Medicare information and they'll take care of the rest. It sounds like it's too good to be true, right? It is totally too good to be true.

The fact is Medicare cards are made of paper. They are free to obtain once you've been approved. And your Medicare number should be guarded and protected just like your credit card and bank account numbers. So, if you get a call about some "fantastic plastic" card that you can use worry-free, that's when you need to begin worrying.

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The FTC suggests you check your Medicare statement after each professional visit. You need to look for charges on the statement that don't belong. In many cases, the scammer would "double up" on the charges and then direct payment for those services into their accounts instead of the accounts of your healthcare professionals.

What Should I Do If I Get a Call Offering a Plastic Medicare Card?

Hang up. The faster you can hang up the better. Hopefully, your smartphone will recognize the incoming number as a scam call but it might not. Many scammers spoof official numbers to make the Caller ID on your phone think they are calling from a legitimate office. They are not.

Oli Scarff, Getty Images
Oli Scarff, Getty Images
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Once you've hung up the phone quickly, if you feel your information or your Medicare account has been compromised you can place a call to your Medicare Office. When you make the call you know the person on the other end is a legitimate representative. You can find the number on your paper Medicare card. If you can't call your doctor's office, they'll help you.

Unusual Records Broken in the State of Texas

Texas is known for its eclectic culture, which extends to the unusual records its residents hold. Here are some of the most notable and unusual records:

Gallery Credit: Billy Jenkins

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