Elders are the #1 target for financial scams. Scam operators use four primary methods to target elders -the telephone, the internet, the mail, and in-person. Scam operators use high-pressure sales tactics, scare tactics, and false claims to deceive you and take your money.
Telephone scams are big business. If a stranger asks for your private information, hang up. Do not give your bank account or credit card information or your Medicare or Social Security Number to strangers (even if they claim to be law enforcement) over the telephone. Beware of:
- Social Security Number to strangers (even if they claim to be law enforcement) over the telephone.
- Grandparent Scam – You receive a call from someone claiming to be the “police” saying your grandchild is in jail and needs a certain amount of money to be released.
- Bank Scam – You receive a call from “your bank” saying there is an issue with your account, and they need to verify your account number.
- Government Imposter Scams – You receive a call from someone claiming to be with the Social Security Administration, Medicare, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or other government agency, and the caller states there is an issue with or a change to your record. Do not give your Medicare, Social Security Number, or other personal information to them.
Internet scams targeted at elders are on the rise faster than any other age group, and elders need to be cautious when using the internet. When you use the internet, take these necessary precautions:
- Use passwords, secure browsers, fire walls and virus protection. Avoid pop-ups.
- Not all websites are secure. Look for https in the web address.
- Do not use public wi-fi if your action requires you to provide private information (such as personal information or credit card number, expiration date, and Card Verification Value (CVV) number on back of card).
- Keep your personal information private.
- Review all monthly credit card, bank, and other financial statement
Do not send money to people or businesses you do not know. Examples of mail scams are:
- You receive a letter from someone stating you have won money or will receive a free gift. The letter has your name and address and appears to be written just for you. However, the letter states you must send money or pay a fee to receive the prize or gift. This is a scam. Do not respond or send money.
- Other mail scams include illegal foreign lotteries and sweepstakes. Do not send money or pay fees. Do not cash the check or deposit it into your account. If you do, once the check is determined to be fraudulent, you will be responsible for any of the money you have spent.
- Keep your money and your personal information safe. If you have any doubt about whether or not the mailing you have received is real, verify with a trusted source before taking any other action.
Do not let anyone in your home whom you do not know or did not initiate the contact. Beware of the following:
- Anyone you do not know or did not contact who offers to sell you something or provide a service.
- Anyone you do not know or did not contact who offers a great deal on home repairs.
- Anyone you do not know or did not contact who wants to discuss your finances.
- Anyone who says he/she is from a utility company and needs to check your meters, appliances, or other items in your house. Contact the company to verify that they have sent someone to your home.
Always use caution before letting someone you do not know enter your home.
If you suspect that you have been scammed, report it. If you are not sure whom to contact. Call the office of the Attorney General, the Alabama Securities Commission, your local Area Agency on Aging, or one of the other agencies listed in the Resources section of the website.