June 9, 2016
By Ron Brow, MORe Now Contributor
Mainstreet recently hosted Senior Expos in Arlington Heights and Downers Grove. One of the topics that was addressed at both locations was Senior Fraud Protection.
But, as Berenice Martinez from the Attorney General’s Office in Illinois pointed out, fraud isn’t only for seniors.
“It’s not only the seniors, but anyone from 18 to 86 and beyond,” said Martinez, a Community Outreach Liaison-Latino Affairs as she addressed the attendees at the Downers Grove Expo.
Martinez said that fraud has become more common than you’d like to believe and data breaches are a big reason for the increase. Since 2005, there have been 4,000 data breaches affecting over 857 million records and, for the most part, businesses don’t alert the consumers until the public is alerted to it. A bill has been passed and will be active in January of 2017 in Illinois that would force businesses to acknowledge they have been breached.
Seniors, though, are a big target for scammers because they have time and money. Scammers target and exploit older citizens in a number of different ways: online, by phone, in person and by mail.
One of the biggest scams currently is the IRS Scam on the phone. Victims are told they owe the IRS money and they must pay immediately through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. Victims are threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of driver’s or business licenses. If victims say no or question the scammers, the scammers may become hostile and insulting. If you get a call like this, JUST HANG UP!
Some tricks the scammers use include using a fake name or IRS badge number, knowing the last four digits of your Social Security number, spoofing a fake IRS toll-free number on caller ID, sending phony IRS letters by mail or email in an attempt to make you believe the fake call. The scammers also call back and pretend to be from the local police, FBI or Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to convince you that the call is legitimate.
The one thing to remember is the IRS would never contact you by phone. They would send a certified letter in the mail.
One other scam perpetrated against seniors is the Grandparents Scam. Scam Artists claiming to be attorneys, paralegals and law enforcement officers frantically call saying that a grandchild is in trouble and requesting the grandparent immediately wire money or send a prepaid debit card.
to find out about other scams you need to be aware of.
The best way to avoid telephone scams is also the easiest, JUST HANG UP! The following are some common warnings of telephone scams. If you spot any of these signs while on the phone, don’t think twice: JUST HANG UP!
• They contact you
• They want your personal information
• They promise a big reward
• You must pay then first. It is illegal for someone to require an upfront payment to claim a lottery or sweepstakes prize.
One way to prevent most unwanted calls is to register your phone on the National Do Not Call Registry. You can register your home phone or cell phone online at www.donotcall.gov
or by calling 1.888.382.1222 from the phone number you wish to register.
You can get plenty of information by clicking here
to go to the Attorney General’s website.