Identity theft, grandchildren, technology being compromised and other scams for senior citizens to watch out for were the topics of Tuesday’s Lunch and Learn at Volunteer Connections of Central Alabama.
Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Department investigator Cameron Perry told seniors about all popular scams targeted to them.
Perry told the group to be aware of online dating and those who scam through services usually build up victim’s egos before asking for something. Don’t send anything of value to a person you haven’t met, she said.
“Don’t send (money),” Perry said. “Offer some other suggestion. There’re plenty of places where you can take someone’s check to cash it at a third party.”
The sheriff’s office can look into things that are open sources, such as previous addresses, for online dating.
Perry provided seniors with papers on scams and how citizens can deal with them and advised seniors contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to report all scams.
“There’re a lot of people who talk about things amongst themselves and their peers, ‘Hey I found out someone was scammed. Did you know about it?’” Perry said.
Another common scam is getting calls from strangers claiming to be their grandchildren and they are in jail or the hospital and need money. The suspect will usually tell the senior to buy a prepaid card, then give them the codes on the back.
Perry said if the “grandchild” lives in Tallapoosa County, seniors can always call local law enforcement to confirm an arrest or reach out to other arresting departments to follow up.
“We can call the (scam) number for you and figure out who that is,” Perry said. “That’s something that we’ll do for you. Stop. Check it out. Call law enforcement if it doesn’t feel right.”
Perry also told seniors about blocking scam calls. Some suspects have masked calls to have the same number as the victims and sell them.
“Those are computers,” Perry said. “Those are apps. They’re called Voice over (Internet Protocols, or VoIP), so for us being able to trace them is almost impossible.”
Seniors should not pick up their phones if they don’t recognize the number. Anyone with Verizon as a provider can download a basic scam call filter app called “Call Filter” for free.
“You can add additional numbers to your block list if someone did get through,” Perry said. “Let’s say it’s a local telemarketer and you’re not interested on them waiting to follow the rules. You want to go ahead and block them. You can submit that number in the app and you’ll never know if they tried to call.”
Pulling a victim’s information from gas stations credit cards can also happen. When an attendant is away, the suspect will place a scam on the card readers that’s connected to Bluetooth so they can read the victim’s card number, Perry said.
Perry advised using only chip readers at gas stations since those are difficult to hack.
“If you can use a chip (reader), use a chip,” Perry said.
Technology scams such as being called about infected computer viruses are also common. Perry said the FTC is spreading an internet scams awareness campaign.
“If our community is spending more time online, (our goal) is to reach out to themthrough online,” Perry said. “Just like the bad guys reaching you online we’re going to reach out for you too.”
She also said law enforcement officers will never call residents home and tell them they have a warrant and want money. Police deliver arrest warrants in person and never over the phone.
“If (scammers) want to break contact really quick when you want to verify the information, something is not right,” Perry said. “Let them go.”