Don't Fall For These Scams!
Unfortunately, the world has its share of opportunistic people that prey on those who are mentally and or physically disabled, elderly and uneducated. Interestingly, millennials make up 40% of the population that responds or falls for scams according to Consumer Reports. The difference is that the elder population gives more money to the scammers. They often choose to take advantage through scams that are becoming a daily occurrence for our aging population and millions of dollars are stolen by con-artists and scammers each year.
The problem is getting so bad that Western Union has put together a wonderful resource for you in their fraud pamphlet online (www.wu.com/fraudawareness) and their fraud hotline at 1-800-448-1492. Also you can go to the Federal Trade Commission website https://www.ftc.gov/ . They have information on fraud and scams and you can file a complaint. Other than getting information on up dated fraud I find it cumbersome to reach out to them. You will get better results with the Colorado Attorney General’s office.Their phone number is 720-508-6000 and website is https://coag.gov/ . They will have the most up to date Colorado scams and fraud information. Remember though that they count on you to alert them to recent scams.
Some of the typical scams to be aware of are the following:
You will receive calls or emails that a relative (maybe your grandson) has been in a serious accident and you need to send money immediately. The caller or online scammer indicates that they have been asked to contact you for help. I have heard of parents getting this kind of call about their own children. They often ask for thousands of dollars or a smaller amount to start. NEVER SEND MONEY! Hang up or delete the email message. When getting this kind of call or email, immediately call your family and the fraud hotline or Colorado State Attorney General’s office previously mentioned.
Scammers often call to try and get information. They ask if they have reached you by verifying what your name is. Never verify your name with them or say “yes”. The caller has ways to use that “yes” name verification for all kinds of fraudulent acts. The minute someone asks for me or my husband, I ask “who is calling?” and hang up.
Then there is the advance payment scam for a product or service that you will never receive: Never send cash, checks or credit card info for these kinds of solicitations. If you want to buy products online do it on a reputable site like Amazon and eBay.
Never respond to emails that ask you to verify your account. Call the company. I get emails that pretend to be from Paypal, Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple. I check the email address, and they are always from some unknown questionable source. Delete them and call the actual company. They want their fraud department for to know about it.
Do not donate to phone solicitations asking for money for various organizations. The police organizations that call or other organizations are often bogus. They prey upon older adults. If you want to give to a police fund call your local police department. If you want to donate to a police charity, they will give you where and how you can donate. When you call them, make sure you call the non-emergency phone number for your district and ask them to mail or email you information. Do not call 911.
Many times a week we get the prize or lottery scam calls or mailings asking for your information and wanting you to pay the taxes or an upfront fee to get the prize, lottery win or sweepstakes. These are scams. Hang up or throw away the mailing. We get the “You have won a cruise” scam often. We throw them away as should you.
Do not do anything with all the warranty offerings on your car. The sender tries to make you think the warranty has expired and it is time to renew. This could be a scam! We have an example of a letter I receive often;
Many mortgage notices come in the mail making you think you owe on your mortgage or want you to do a reverse mortgage. Throw them away. If you need to do a reverse mortgage, talk to a family member or a banker at the bank you use. If you have a financial planner talk to them. Never respond to the postcards that want you to sign up. I also get cards in the mail that say my mortgage payments are done but I need to call a specific phone number to clarify. Throw them away they are likely to be scams. We have included an example. example of what they could look like.
A more recent scam is about jury duty. A friend” daughter just graduated from college. She called her dad in tears because she had just received a call that she owed $2,000 for missing jury duty. Luckily, she did not send money, but many more are gullible, older people and do send these scammers money. The Jury office never calls you !
The only way the court system notifies a citizen is by mail. They do not call you under any circumstances. Do not send money or give personal information to someone calling you about jury duty. The IRS, Colorado State Government, Federal Government, and the State and U.S. Courts never call anyone telling them they owe money or ask for information. The scam caller will say you owe fines today and if you do not pay you will be arrested. Ignore these calls. YOU WILL NOT BE ARRESTED, GO TO JAIL, BE DEPORTED, LOSE YOUR LICENSE. DO NOT SEND MONEY, IT IS A BIG SCAM! The US government only contacts you by mail.
Do not send money if you get a call about a student loan or a family member’s student loan. You will not go to jail. This is could be a scam.
Never, never respond to calls regarding computer information or antivirus protection. I get iCloud and Microsoft fraudulent calls weekly and I hang up. Never give any information or send money for antivirus protection. Have an expert or family member help you check that your computer antivirus protection is working. Do not answer emails from computer software companies. Write them if the email address is from a legitimate company. It is safer not to respond online. You can contact the software companies and they will guide you through the process.
One of the saddest and oldest scams is by people who prey upon lonely people seeking romance and a relationship. There will always be fraudsters who create fraudulent relationships through social media platforms, dating sites, restaurants and bars. They will string you along for a long period and then seek money from you for an emergency or medical need, etc. They are pros and unfortunately, they are often very successful in the fraudulent relationship. I have seen this happen to women who have met someone in a bar, online, or in an interactive location or activity. The women or men are strung along until eventually there is a request for money. Don’t allow yourself to be sucked into this type of con. Listen to your gut. Several people who have had this happen said their gut told them not to do it. I understand the need to be loved and want a relationship, but no one but you can protect yourself on these dating/romance scams. Older lonely women are targets. JUST SAY NO! If need be, just say you don’t have any money. If you are alone with a person doing this, stall them and find a way to call the police or get to a police station. Always let someone know about a new relationship you are creating that could lead to this. Family members it is imperative to check on older family members and ideally be signed on financial accounts so you can be alerted to any money withdrawals or credit card charges that are unusual.
A new scam call happened to my husband and I this week. A foreign accented gentleman called asking for my husband. I asked as I always do who is calling. The gentleman then said he was calling from Medicare and we did not have to pay anything but they needed information, I hung up. Medicare will only mail or email you. Always verify the email address to make sure that it is from Medicare. For anything important, they will use the mail. Fake calls are also starting to happen with other major medical insurance companies. Note that the US Government will not call you unless they are returning a call to you.
Lastly, it is illegal in the U.S. for a telemarketer to make money transfers for anything they are selling. They will tell you they can take credit cards. So again, SAY NO AND HANG UP! If you want what they are selling go online or call the number advertised for the product. My guess is you can live without what is being marketed.
If you are a caregiver or have older family members be aware of these scams. Do not assume your parent or elder person would not get sucked in. Often, they are lonely, scared or embarrassed so they may not acknowledge that they are victims. Print a large note that tells them not to answer unknown numbers and to not give out any personal information over the phone. Better yet be a signatory for all financial transactions including credit cards.
Remember “If it sounds too good to be true, it is!”
For more information on scams that are happening now check out this article by The New York Times.