Dear Harry: This is roughly the conversation I had last Friday with a young woman who called me and identified herself as a representative of my prescription insurance company.
She: Mr. X, I am Jane Smith and I'm in the process of checking our records on your account. We need to verify your Social Security number and date of birth. Could you please give them to me?
Me: If you give me your information, I will verify their correctness. (I am suspicious.)
She: That would be a violation of our privacy rules, and I'm not permitted to do that.
Me: (Now very suspicious.) Then I'll call you back at the company's number. What is your extension?
She: I cannot be reached through our regular switchboard. I'll give you my direct line number.
Me: No dice. How about if you give me three or four SS numbers, and I'll tell you which is correct?
She: Sorry. Privacy rules don't permit that.
Me: My privacy rules don't permit any other way.
She: You know, your stubbornness will delay any shipments to you. I will not call again.
Do you think this was a scam?
What Harry says: I have no idea, but I'm at least as suspicious as you are. You may get a follow-up letter with a return envelope. Before you reply, check out the address with a call to the company's regular switchboard. It's better to be wrong about your suspicions 100 times than to be careless just once.
Write Harry Gross c/o the Daily News, 400 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19130. Harry urges all his readers to give blood - contact the American Red Cross at 800-Red Cross.