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Seniors and Scams- Marketing Director's Musings

September 18, 2016 amytawbush Blog

At City Center Village, we care about all seniors, not just our residents, having said that, I implore you to read and take to heart the information below.

I sat with a couple recently and listened as they shared their story of how one person thousands of miles away scammed them of several thousand dollars.  The good news is, their banker, along with a local retailer (who provided wire transfer service), refused to send anymore money to the crooks on behalf of these beautiful people.  The bad news is, it will keep happening.  “Why”–  We as seniors were raised to be trusting, and “back in the day” door to door salesmen were common.  As technology has advanced, the salesman changed from door to door to telephone and internet.  With advancements came the ability of con artists to target a trusting, needy group of  people and rob them- all too often of their life savings.  What can we do?

Be Aware!-  When you are contacted either via internet or telephone by someone who asks for your personal information such as banking, debit and credit card, do not give it out. Trusted banks, financial institutions, government agencies, etc will never demand payment or such information over the phone.

Ask Questions!- If you receive a mailpiece, telephone call or email asking for money, no matter the urgency the caller or email may imply, investigate the nature of the request thoroughly before acting.  One of the most popular scams to date is for someone to receive a call stating their loved one is either in the Emergency Room or Jail and requires money immediately.  This is traumatic, and is a trigger to anyone, especially seniors, to act without thinking things through.  Find out specifics- what ER? what jail?  What is the address, and a contact name and number.  Hang up and call your local police or sheriffs department to validate the call.  Then call your loved one they have named.  Put yourself at ease by finding out that he or she is okay.

Report!- If you believe you have been victimized or someone has attempted to – report it to your local law enforcement authorities.  There is no shame and you may help prevent someone else from being targeted.

Protect!- If someone calls you or gains access to your computer remotely, unplug your computer immediately and make sure it is not connected to the internet.  Afterwards, call a trusted local computer service/repair to help you resolve the issue.  This recently happened to a family member and through the help of friends, she was able to disable the scammers ability to connect remotely to her computer.  She did have to pay a small amount to a local computer technician, but the people across the ocean were threatening to encrypt all of her files unless she paid them thousands of dollars.

Be Proactive!- By protecting your identity, personal financial information and using internet search engines- you can often head off trouble before it finds you.  Example:  If J J J X X X Company calls or emails you- simply type that name into a search engine such as Google or Explorer and see what you find.  You can also narrow your search by adding the word “scam” or “reviews” to the end of the company name.

Social Media-Ladies and Gentleman, there are people out there who know we are lonely- and they will utilize social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc) to “Catfish,”- a term given to bottom feeders, right?  These people will become your long distance friends, post fake photos of themselves with a bio that is too good to be  true.  Then they begin to reel you in, you are the love of their life, they are lonely too and have been looking for someone just like you to spend the rest of their life with.  They just need a little bit (really????) of money or “assistance” in meeting you.  Arrangements are made, money is sent and it begins– you go to the airport- they aren’t there, but you get a call the next day saying they were, but you just barely missed them, so they left.  Or – they saw you with a family member and were afraid your family wouldn’t approve, they were called away at the last minute on business and the list goes on- and so do they- they will continue this long distance relationship, never appearing in person and always with a plausible reason.  They will also continue to ask for money- you will give it to them and they may pay a small portion back with promises of big money and companionship in the near future.  Please, please, please be careful.  This is the easiest trap for us to fall prey to. If someone is really interested in being your friend, they won’t need you to finance their trip or help them keep up a lifestyle that is probably much better than the one you currently live.  Think before you act- and make sure the people you connect with out there are really your FRIENDS!

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