05/03/2017: It’s a Trap!
Scammers are targeting more and more people, especially seniors, each year. Find out about different types of fraud and advice for when approached by scammers.
- Telemarketing, Email, and Sweepstakes Scams – A scammer calls about a sweepstakes or a lottery the individual won that requires advance fees or upfront charges. They may also receive an email asking them to wire money to a stranger as part of a financial windfall that will be split with them. Scammers posing as government officials are known to call to try to get access to seniors’ government benefits or social security numbers for the purpose of identity theft.
- The Grandparent Scam – A perpetrator pretends to be a grandchild, a law enforcement officer, or a medical professional with a story that the grandchild is in legal or medical trouble and needs money immediately to resolve the issue.
- Repair Fraud – A repair person contacts an individual about a “necessary” service and requires payment upfront—often for services that are never provided or are not needed.
- Funeral and Cemetery Scams – A perpetrator scans obituaries and contacts the grieving widow or widower with a claim that the deceased had an outstanding debt.
The National Crime Prevention Council has outlined five ways to make unwanted telemarketers go away. Remind loved ones in your life that they can, and should, ask telemarketers to remove them from their call lists. If the telemarketers don’t, they’re breaking the law.
- Never give personal information (bank account, social security number, etc.) to anyone over the phone, unless you initiated the call and know you’ve reached the right agency. Response: “I don’t give out personal information over the phone. I’ll contact the company directly.”
- Don’t believe it if the caller tells you to send money to cover the “handling charge” or to pay taxes. Response: “I shouldn’t have to pay for something that’s free.”
- “Limited-time offers” shouldn’t require you to make a decision on the spot. Response: “I’ll think about it and call you back. What’s your number?”
- Be suspicious of anyone who tells you not to discuss the offer with someone else. Response: “I’ll discuss it with my family and friends and get back to you.”
- If you don’t understand all the verbal details, ask for it in writing. Response: “I can’t make a decision until I receive written information.”
The best rule of thumb for seniors and individuals to avoid being victimized is to never provide personal information, and don’t send money or provide a credit card number to “verify,” “guarantee” or “process” a prize.
This information is provided with the understanding that Home Bank is not engaged in rendering specific legal, accounting, or other professional services. If specific expert assistance is required, the services of a competent, professional person should be sought.