Only 45 days into the new year, there is a new round of telephone scams seeking to take advantage of seniors
Every county in Nevada has been affected to some extent by these new attempts to part unsuspecting senior citizens with their money.
In a recent article, Brandy Bauer for the National Council on Aging noted, “It is estimated that older adults lose billions of dollars every year to scammers.”
But older adults are getting wiser about what is taking place and are now said “to be more likely to report a scam to the police department or the local telephone company than before.”
Bauer wrote that three scams, in particular, are making the rounds nationwide. In Nevada, scams have been tried in Eureka, White Pine and Lincoln County.
Social Security spoofing is a common scam at present. People call, often with accents from India, claiming to represent the Social Security Administration (SSA).
In some cases, the callers say they want to help activate a suspended Social Security card number, or add the number of a new card to their system. In some cases, the valid SSA hotline number is used to make the scam sound legitimate.
However, the SSA rarely contacts someone by phone unless a person already has ongoing business with them.
Another scam is a new twist on the old grandparent ruse. This is a call
from a person who claims to be a grandchild or knows of a grandchild who has been involved in an accident or legal trouble and needs money immediately.
According to recent Federal Trade Commission (FTC) findings, the caller asks the senior person to take the money, divide the bills into envelopes and place them between the pages of a magazine, then send them by various carriers such as UPS, Federal Express, the U.S. Postal Service or some other means.
The FTC says if you receive such a call, you should not act immediately. Instead, call the grandchild back, or contact their immediately family and verify their whereabouts and condition.
If you already acted rashly and mailed the money, contact the Postal Service or shipping company immediately to stop shipment and insist on getting a tracking number. It’s possible that the package could be intercepted and returned to you.
A third scam being used in 2019, one of many even older ones, is a call you might receive after a natural disaster that occurred either in your area or some other part of the country.
Wildfires, flooding, windstorms, etc., are a golden opportunity for scammers to target both those who have been directly affected and those who simply want to try to help.
Scammer may impersonate a charity to get money or private information from well-meaning citizens.
Fake websites may also be used to mimic legitimate charities and swindle people into sending their money. Some scammers pretend to be from the IRS and collect personal information under the false claim of helping victims file paperwork for losses and tax refunds.
Recognize this as a scam. If you have a desire to help, always find reputable agencies to support victims of natural disasters. Use the IRS’s tax-exempt organization search tool or look for an organization’s charity rating such as Guidestar and Charity Navigator.
For victims of a disaster, you may use the National Council on Aging’s Benefits Checkup assistance tool to find legitimate help.
The Federal Trade Commission operates a Pass it On campaign where free materials are available by mail or online. You can use these to share information with others or to avoid being scammed yourself in 2019, or any other year.