SCAM FRAUDS

SCAM-FRAUD HAPPEN OFTEN TO SENIOR CITIZENS - Protect Yourself From Scam-Fraud

Scam-Fraud is an avenue in which seniors are particularly at risk; the predators are at your door, on the phone, your computer and even by mail. Why, you might ask does this happen? The elderly are more likely to have reserves of monies and are usually more trusting. Too often when faced with the events, the elderly are too embarrassed to report it to authorities.
No matter how savvy you think yourself to be scammers find a way to be irresistible to you so that you let your guard down. To maintain your safety, do not release personal information over the phone unless it’s someone you know. Senior citizens often become predatory victims of scam-fraud because some smooth talking salesman talks them into items they don’t want, need or can’t afford.  Simply say thank you while hanging up the phone at the same time.  Often because of loneliness seniors seize the opportunity for conversation and contact with persons who have no conscience. There are those scam-fraud persons who seek out persons of age to  prey on because they recognize their limitations and how to get around them to take from them. For instance if you have been accustomed to having your mate handle all business matters, you feel like a fish out of water trying to navigate the handling of these affairs. Who do you talk to, what do you tell them and how do you know you can depend on or trust them? Start with a trusted family member, friend or a reputable member of the business community you have been referred to by others who have used these persons. It's not a bad idea to have someone else to look at their suggested recommendations before you act upon them. Until you become comfortable in trusting yourself and others navigating your affairs; utilize experts who have to answer to someone else. Don't be afraid to ask questions or seek answers.

I myself experienced a scam-fraud through a phone call from someone posing as a Microsoft technician. They indicated that they had completed an analysis of my computer and it needed to be cleaned because it had slowed down in functioning. Because I did have Microsoft services I felt this was legitimate and I was experiencing a slow down in my computer. I allowed them to remote into my computer and clean the computer, but the cost was $200.00.  Later, about a few weeks or so my computer was hacked. People (my contact list) were receiving messages that I was in Sweden and needed $900.00 to get back home because of my shortage of cash. I had not sent such a message and it was embarrassing. Some recognized what had happened without be contacting them, but others didn’t understand what was going on. To get past this I had to change my email address and password. This was very unsettling for me because I am not someone who would do such a thing. I also carried my computer to a Dell repair service to have them check the computer for any links or alterations which may have been made to get back into the computer. The Dell repair service also added mal-ware to guard against any further hacking. Many computer companies are now following Apple and including in their suite of inclusive services means to limit and/or prevent hacking. Why do hackers do this? To be annoying and steal what they can of your personal information, which often they sell to others. My advice is to add virus protection and mal-ware to your computer or buy an Apple computer to better protect yourself. When you think of the money spent, the hours of aggravation and the possible mistrust from some; I felt violated.

Too often the senior population, become harassed by charities, to increase their giving on a continual basis. Before giving to any organization complete a background check with the Better Business Bureau or the Internal Revenue Services.  Look carefully at your income and determine what you can afford; limit the number and amount of charities you select. Don’t let yourself be conned nor bullied into doing more than you feel comfortable doing. Ask the question, who will take care of you should you press beyond the limit?
While these circumstances do not happen to all seniors, loved ones should watch for signs such as continual and/or large withdrawals from bank accounts, new found friends who are never present when you visit, and phone messages asking for payments. How does this happen? Through listings which contain personal facts about you which are sold to companies looking for easy access to your identity. Use your caller I D on your phone and try not to answer calls from phone numbers particularly which are not local nor do you recognize them even if they are local. If the call is legitimate they will leave a message. Many people receive these robo-calls (dialed by a computer) simply to verify your phone number. They will then later make a call  to you by a person. Know that these companies in their scam-fraud efforts are pretty persistent and you will need to be firm with them. You can limit their calls through the “Do Not Call Registry”or filing a claim of harassment with the BBB. Doing  so will enhance your privacy and safety.

Sweepstakes: If you receive a letter, e-mail or phone call implying that you've won a sweepstakes, be careful, you are at risk. Some con artists use the lure of a big sweepstake prize to convince unsuspecting consumers to send in money to claim a "prize" they've won. Sometimes the con artists tell consumers they need to pay a  fee to cover the taxes or service charges or need certain personal information before releasing their winnings. Most times the prize is simply a scam-fraud. See the Federal Trade Commission for a Consumer Alert with tips on how to avoid bogus sweepstakes scams.

Keep in mind the following points to avert scam-fraud:
1. Do not release personal information unless it’s someone you know.
2. When repairmen enter your home, try to havea trusted friend or family member present. Sometimes you get talked into things you hadn’t planned on doing.
3. It is nice to communicate on social media with family and friends, but be very careful in the personal info you reveal. There are those predators who are paying attention.
4. Take your time in developing new relationships.  Don’t be so quick to tell all and allow persons to handle your personal affairs. There are those who make it a habit of befriending the elderly because they have ulterior motives.
5. Check and  double check with others (minister, bank rep.,close friend and others these people may have helped.) When conducting business of any kind get the cost of an article or service before you commit your money. Oftentimes a dishonest seller will make every effort to find out how much money you have or attempt to talk you into spending.
6. When using the internet for transacting personal business or shopping, be sure to use a secure line (security or lock symbol on page) as well as your own security software. This will further protect you from theft of your information or money.