Senior citizens have become increasingly attractive scam targets for con artists because they have a “nest egg,” own their home, and tend to have excellent credit. In addition, people who grew up in the 1930’s, 1940’s, and 1950’s were generally raised to be polite and trusting. Con artists exploit these traits, knowing that it is difficult or impossible for these individuals to say “no” or just hang up the telephone. Thanks to our friends at the Naperville Police Department we are able share the following information on recent scams to watch out for. Help protect yourself or a loved one from these tricky thieves by following the tips below.
#1 – Relative or Grandchild in Jail
This scam involves a phone call targeting older adults where the caller pretends to be a family member who has been arrested and needs bond money. The caller is relying on the resident to be hard of hearing or without contact with the family in some time. Excuses are made by the caller that he has a cold to explain the change in voice, or a desperate need to get out of jail and to not notify parents. The caller instructs the older adult to either wire money or purchase Green Dot gift cards. The caller will then obtain the PIN number on the gift card and wire money off of the card. The wire transfers are untraceable. Do not act on the caller’s instructions before actually talking to a family member to verify the claim. Report this incident to the police immediately.
#2 – Internal Revenue Service
A phone call comes in from an unknown number. When you answer, the caller claims that they are from the IRS and that there is a warrant for your arrest. The caller explains that you owe back taxes and threatens arrest, unless payment is made. The callers have middle-Eastern accents, yell and threaten the residents. In several cases, the resident’s caller ID shows “IRS”. Con artists can purchase a computer device to display any phone number or name regardless of the originating call location. The IRS does not call and threaten residents with arrest due to back tax cases. This is a scam. If you receive one of these calls, hang up the phone and report the incident to your local police department.
#3 – Microsoft Monitoring Computer Issue or Virus
Many people are still receiving calls from individuals identifying themselves as a Microsoft employee who is monitoring a computer issue or virus on a resident’s computer. The caller instructs the resident to allow remote access to their computer. Once the caller has access to your computer, they can download your computer hard drive files, passwords, bank account information, or add a virus or keystroke registry that will send the caller a detailed report of your computer activity including websites, user/password information. Microsoft does not monitor anyone’s computer. This is a scam. If you receive one of these calls, hang up on the caller and report the incident to the police.
#4 – Police Threaten Arrest
This scam involves a voicemail from a person claiming to be the police and threatening a lawsuit unless you return the call. Legitimate police will not threaten a lawsuit. Do not return the phone call. Notify your local police department regarding the phone call.
#5 – Resident Receives Check
The fifth scam targets people who have listed items for sale on CraigsList or other social media. A fictious buyer sends you a check in an amount larger than the agreed upon amount and then contacts you to deposit the check and return the overage to them. The checks are counterfeit. The buyer had no intention of making the purchase, only to have the resident cash a fake check and send money. If the resident cashes the check, the bank will require the resident to pay back the full amount. If you receive a check and it is not the actual amount agreed upon, do not cash it. Contact your local bank and inquire as to whether the check is legitimate. You should also notify your local police department.
#6 – Resident Receives E-mail Asking for Copy of Passport
This scam involves an e-mail message from an individual claiming to be with a governmental agency in England that has your luggage and needs a copy of your Passport. The e-mails tend to originate in India. Assuming you have not traveled to England and lost your luggage recently, this is a scam to try and obtain your personal identifiers that can be used for identity theft. Do not respond to any inquiries that ask for your personal information.
#7 – Resident Responds to CraigsList for Equipment
We are back to CraigsList again for scam number 7. This time a resident responds to an ad on CraigsList for a piece of construction equipment for sale. The seller asks the resident to purchase Reloadit gift cards and then wire the money off of the gift cards. The wire transfer is untraceable. There was never a real intent to sell this equipment. The ad is removed and immediately relisted for another victim. Do not ever purchase gift cards (GreenDot, Reloadit, or other cards) and then give out the PIN number.
#8 – ComED calls
If you receive a phone call from an individual claiming to be from ComED , asking who handles bills in the home, be very cautious. These calls are designed to entice the resident to give out their name, address and account number. The caller will then transfer other billing addresses onto your account. Do not give out any personal information to any unsolicited caller.
#9 – Sweepstakes Scam
Here is how scam number nine plays out – you receive a phone call from an individual claiming to be with the Consumer Detection Bureau saying that you won a second chance sweepstakes. You are instructed to purchase a Cashier’s Check and send a check. Do not respond to calls that you are a “big winner”.
#10 – Make Money with Apple
As tempting as scam number ten may sound, if you receive an e-mail describing an opportunity to make money by advertising Apple products on your personal car, it’s not a legitimate offer. Some individuals have been told that they would be paid $500 and will receive a check for $2520 with instructions to mail the remaining $1,970 to an address in California. The check is not legitimate. If you cash the check, you will be responsible for full repayment to the bank. Do not deposit or cash any check received that is for an amount greater than originally stated. Contact the bank listed on the check to verify that the check is legitimate. Do not respond to any unsolicited offers received via phone, internet, or mail.
#11 – Free Walmart Gas Card
And last but not least, you receive a phone call claiming that you have allegedly won a Walmart gas card. In order to receive this gas card, you need to provide your credit card number to pay for shipping charges. This is a scam. Once the caller has your credit card number, fraudulent charges will begin to appear on your credit card statement.
For more information on local organizations that provide education on Senior Safety, please contact Strohschein Law Group at 630-377-3241.