Guarding Against Fraud

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A Meridian woman who says she was the victim of a scam is reaching out in hopes of helping others.

Phone scams affect one out of every six people, with people on the other end of the line tricking people into providing their personal and financial information by pretending to be from a legitimate company, agency or organization.

On Wednesday, 77-year-old Johnnie Nichols of Meridian said she got such a call, allegedly about Medicaid.

"About 1:00 p.m. my telephone rang and I got up and answered it and there was some lady on the other end who said she was calling for (President) Bush," said Nichols. "What really got me is when she started asking me questions about my home."

Ultimately, the conversation led to Nichols giving the caller her bank account number. Following the phone call, Nichols checked with local Medicaid officials who told her that the call was fraudulent.

"I just wanted to cry because I thought, 'now here I've done given everything away by giving them my bank account number,’" Nichols said.

Luckily, Nichols was able to close her account before any theft occurred. Unfortunately, law enforcement officials say she is the exception and not the rule.

"Many people are too embarrassed when they find out, when they find out they are a victim, but we encourage them to report it," said Maj. Ward Calhoun of the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department.

However, officers say always remember the rule of thumb is to use extreme caution when giving out personal information over the phone.