COMMUNITY LIVING SERVICES:
If it Sounds Too Good-It IS…
[January 2021 | By Eva Veitch, Region 10 Area Agency on Aging]
The schemes and scams continue to grow and become more devious. The fraudsters have figured out how to call from parts unknown and make it look like a local number so we will answer. They are very slick and have a variety of tricks they use to get you to reveal personal information that they will then use to rob you blind. Yes, it happens in western Colorado every day to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
You have probably heard of the “Grandparent Scheme.” Grandson Robbie calls to say he is in jail or the emergency room in Mexico and he needs money, it’s easy to help him you can just wire the money. The “IRS Scheme” where if you don’t instantly “pay” a tax bill you will be arrested for back taxes. Hang up, and do not give information or speak a single world. The IRS will never call to tell you that you will be arrested for back taxes. (Learn more here.) The “Jury Duty Scam” they don’t call; they send you a postcard in the mail, hang up, or they do call, threaten you , and ask for personal information. (More info here.) Report it to the authorities, but do not respond or speak if it’s a caller.
The telephone or computer is not the only way to get you. In the “Contractor Scheme Scam,” the contractor misrepresents the cost of a job for a kickback. (Discussion). They got my mom for over $12,000 in new windows for her 7-year-old home. The “Sweetheart Scam” often targets lonely, unsuspecting seniors. Harrys new girlfriend would move to Montrose if she could afford to, she just needs a little financial help from his grandparents. Lonely widow meets slick, single man, purportely a “widower” who romances her, then needs a temporary loan to solve an immediate; she forks over her savings. Money and man both disappear.
Even reputable companies can be guilty of overselling those of us who may be gullible. One of our consumers thought he needed a new door for his older home; the one that was ordered for him cost nearly $6,700. Of course, the nice salesperson helped him complete an application for financing and told him about rebates that made the payments more manageable. This man is well into his eighties, uses a wheelchair, and is struggling to buy groceries and pay for his medications. His daughter canceled the order right away, but she was told there would be a $1,600 restocking fee.
The family sought help from the Area Agency on Aging and after numerous phone calls the company decided to waive the fee. I am sure it never occurred to the salesperson that this nice man was shopping for champagne on a beer budget. Whether he could afford a $6,700 door was of no concern to the salesman working on commission.
We all know if it sounds too good to be true; it is. Be careful about the information you give out, ask yourself, why is the bank or credit card company asking me to verify my account information? Why is the doctor’s office asking for my Medicare number when they took a copy of my insurance card? Why is the creditor asking me to purchase $500 in gift cards? Why do I need to send money to get the money I won in the sweepstakes?
The latest scam is your stimulus payment. Be aware: no one will call you or send you an email to verify your information, do NOT give out your personal information.
I have been in the business of helping elders for most of my life, I know the tricks; yet when social security called to tell me that my account was in jeopardy I almost called back! We are all at risk, be aware, be cynical and keep your information private and secure. Never give out personal or financial information. If you think it is legitimate, call your bank, doctor, or other entity that supposedly needs this information. Never answer “Yes,” to a question, because it could be recorded and used to “prove” you bought or agreed to something.
If you suspect fraud report it to the police or adult protective services.