Senior Scams and How to Avoid Them

Senior Scams – you read about them everyday!

A scammer calls an elderly person, pretends to be their grandchild and pleads for money for help to get out of a legal jam. In cases where the grandparent believes the scammer, they go out and buy a gift card or debit card and then send the ‘bail’ money to the bogus grandchild.

“Scams are a growing problem for all us, not just seniors,” said Avon Chief of Police Richard Bosley at Rose Senior Living on Avon on Aug. 26. His presentation, “Senior Scams and How to Avoid Them,” touched on various ways all people can remain safe from scammers.

Many times, scam phone call originate from foreign phone numbers. Surprisingly, it may not even be illegal for the people of these international origins to be making a scam call.

“In certain parts of the world, it is not a crime,” reports Chief Bosley. “In their country, they think this person is legitimately making money by scamming us,”

So, the best strategy in dealing with a moral difference in cultural standards is to be aware that such a call is a scam and you should hang-up. Don’t listen to them!

Here is a Look at Common Scams:

The IRS Phone Scam is another big one. A caller will say you have a delinquent tax bill and ask you make a payment through a gift card or debit card number.

“The IRS does not call you,” said Chief Bosley. “We had a lady on station last week and fortunately she did not make a payment. These callers are coming from another country or from somewhere across the country.”

It is important to NEVER give any personal information over the phone. Your bank or other institution will already have this information. Sharing it with a stranger may open the door to identity theft.

Identity theft can result in something as serious as a fraudulent tax return filed in your name. If someone gets enough personal information on you, they can file a false return and get to your money or refund, especially if they have your Social Security number.

Distraction Burglary occurs when a phony solicitor comes to your door and engages you in conversation while a partner in crime breaks into the rear of your house. Go to City Hall and pick up a Do Not Knock sticker for your front door and join the city’s Do Not Knock registry.

Package Theft: “There are people who drive around and look for packages,” said Chief Bosley. Be aware of when your packages will arrive or have them shipped to a secure address where someone can accept it on your behalf.

Fake Check scam: Even Chief Bosley gets these in the mail. The checks may say you won a prize or gift. But if you try to cash it, your personal banking routing number may be exposed to the criminal, giving them access to your account.

Craigslist Cash is also a danger. Don’t send money or items. Deal only face to face at a secure location. In Bay Village, there is a designated Ebay pickup zone in place in the Police Station parking lot.

False Charities: In the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, false charities will enter the mix along with legitimate help. Your best choice is to choose a charity that you already know and trust with your contributions.

Fraudulent Telemarketers may surface as representative of fake charities, so beware of phone calls soliciting contributions. Telemarketers may also be selling timeshares or other schemes that will lead to high pressure sales. Hang up.

The Grandparent Scam. “These people target folks who are from a generation where could trust people more,” said Chief Bosley. So, if you are an elderly person and get a call from someone who claims to be or represent a grandchild who needs financial help to get out of trouble, hang up and find out from a relative if it is true. “Trust but verify,” said Chief Bosley. “If you ever get the line “you have to act now,” or “limited time offer” – these are red flags.

Phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers. Sometimes calls come from a person who wants to ‘fix’ your computer. Don’t let them into your computer to check for viruses. “Understand that when you click that button, they can both send you information and receive the information in your computer,” said Chief Bosley. They can download everything on your computer and you will never know it.

Don’t fall for the Lottery Scam. You might get a notice that your winnings will be sent after you pay taxes or fees. Don’t fall for it.

Work at Home scam: Victims are asked for start up money or requested to buy inventory. Then, the so-called employer vanishes or claims your work is substandard.

When it comes to contractors, most cities have lists of registered contractors. Check these lists at City Hall when shopping for a roof, cement work, plumber, etc.

It is also wise to review every transaction on your monthly credit card, cell phone and checking account statement to be sure no one has made unauthorized actions

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