Scam and Fraud Awareness for Seniors who are often the target of many dishonest schemes.
Seniors are often the target of scams. Perpetrators assume the older population is unfamiliar with ways they can be deceived through email, the internet (via links and pop-up screens) and phone calls, often using fear to get information.
Regardless of the communication used, never give out any personal information. This includes your full name, social security number, user identification names, passwords, email addresses or street address. If you believe there is a possibility of a real issue, ask to call or email them back (checking the phone number/address on a bill or the company website). Do not click on links of unfamiliar emails or websites.
Scams are often several years old, being re-issued with a new twist or names. Check it out for yourself, even if a family member or friend said it’s “safe” or “true”. Many are documented and debunked at Snopes, Scambusters, Scam Detector; these are reference websites that share material about misinformation including scams. Here are some actions you can take to get more information:
- Google suspicious phrases from the phone call, email or website and see if others have reported receiving a similar communication.
- Never click on links in an email from an unknown sender –or even a friend. Use your mouse to hover over the link until the website address appears before making a decision to click.
- Some websites such as Craigslist, Ebay, Microsoft and banks have devoted sections in their frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding scams targeted toward their customers.
- Always keep your anti-virus software on your computer up-to-date.
There are many ways of reporting a scam. You may begin by filling out a complaint form at the Federal Trade Commission website.
Other websites that have scam reporting and information:
- Stop Fraud (Government)
- National Center on Elder Abuse
- Consumer Reports California
- Department of Business Oversight – Complaints against financial services providers
- Senate Special Committee on Aging Hotline: 855-303-9470
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
The following are just a few known scams circulating. Click the bolded, underlined link for more information.
IRS: Caller or email asks for personal information. Know: The IRS uses the U.S. Mail to communicate with taxpayers. Thieves also may identify themselves from the Social Security Administration.
Holding computer files ransom. This may be a virus called CryptoWall.
Order Confirmation. Didn’t order something from that company? Be careful of those emails asking you to confirm.
Tech Support. Call or email claiming they’ve detected viruses on your computer.
Email or phone call from a family member or friend who is in trouble. This is commonly known as the “Grandparent Scam”.
Parking violation. Email stating you’ve received a parking ticket.
Each fall there is open enrollment for Medicare. Unfortunately, this is also the time Medicare scams are in full force. Here are some resources to help you recognize and prevent Medicare scams.
- U.S. News: How to Protect Yourself Against Common Medicare Scams
- Senior Medicare Patrol
- California Health Advocates – Focused on Medicare advocacy and education Micky Nozaki 855-613-7080 Click here to see presentation.