Financial scams have become prevalent among seniors. They often go unreported and are devastating to the senior, leaving them in a vulnerable position with little time to recoup their losses. The most common scams are done over the phone, with no face-to-face interaction, and no paper trail, theses scams are incredibly hard to trace. Lonely seniors with nobody to talk to are prime targets. Once a successful deal has been made, the senior’s name is then shared with similar schemers looking for easy targets, defrauding the same person repeatedly.
The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department has issued an alert warning all Central Valley residents to be wary of a number of ploys to get money. Examples of telemarketing scams include:
“The Fake Accident Ploy” – the con artist gets the victim to wire or send money on the pretext that the person’s child or other relative is in the hospital and needs money.
“Charity Scams” – money is solicited for fake charities, often after natural disasters.
“Email Scams” – the senior receives an email message that appears to be from a legitimate company or institution, asking them to “update” or “verify” their personal information.
“Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams” – the seniors are told that they have won a lottery or sweepstakes of some kind and need to make some sort of payment to pay fees or taxes on the prize.
“The Grandparent Scam” – the con artist will call and say “Hi Grandma, do you know who this is?” the senior will guess, giving the name of the grandchild. Then the fake grandchild will ask for money to solve an unexpected financial problem (rent, car repair, bail, etc.) to be paid via Western Union or MoneyGram. The fake grandchild will beg “please don’t tell my parents, they will kill me.”
Protect yourself and your loved ones, sheriff’s department officials note. You will never be solicited by a legitimate company to verify personal information over the phone or via email. If you win a prize you are not asked to pay fees, if you are tell them to take the fees out of your winnings and send you the remainder. If a relative or friend calls asking for money, ask questions only they would know. Never let them force you to make a decision immediately, if it sounds too good to be true it often is.