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State health department warns of phone scammers

People who receive such fraudulent calls should hang up and report them to the Attorney General's Office, and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
Photo by splityarn via Flickr Creative Commons
The California Department of Public Health recommends that anyone who receives a suspicious call should hang up and report it to the state attorney general's office and/or file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

California's Department of Public Health has issued a warning to consumers: If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from the department who asks about your recent surgery or medical procedure, hang up the phone and report the call to the authorities.

The department issued this warning following several reports of callers asking about people’s personal health, in the hopes of obtaining sensitive personal data, including their social security number, banking information or medical history.

The department says the callers are often men with "heavy foreign accents" who primarily target women, some of whom may have undergone surgical mesh or bladder sling surgery. It says the callers may hint at offers of compensation and attempt to lure consumers into giving out private information.

"People should be cautious about unsolicited phone calls regarding their personal health," Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ron Chapman said in a statement. "These callers can be very convincing but no one should ever give out their financial or medical information during an initial telephone call."

Anyone receiving a suspicious call should report it to the Attorney General’s Office, the health department said, adding that people can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.