The schemes and scams continue to grow and become more devious. The fraudsters have figured out how to call from parts unknown and make it look like a local number so we will answer. They are very slick and have a variety of tricks they use to get you to reveal personal information that they will then use to rob you blind. Yes, it happens in western Colorado every day to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
You have probably heard of the “Grandparent Scheme”. Little Robbie calls to say he is in jail or the emergency room in Mexico and he needs money. It’s easy to help him, you can just wire the money.
The “IRS Scheme” — the IRS will never call to tell you that you will be arrested for back taxes; hang up. The “Jury Duty Scam” they don’t call; they send you a postcard in the mail, hang up. The telephone or computer is not the only way to get you, the “Contractor Scheme” got my mom for over $12,000 in new windows for her 7-year-old home. The “Sweetheart Scheme” —Harry’s new girlfriend would move to Montrose if she could afford to, she just needs a little help; run Forrest RUN.
Even reputable companies can be guilty of overselling those of us who may be gullible. One of our consumers thought he needed a new door for his older home; the one that was ordered for him cost nearly $6,700. Of course, the nice salesperson helped him complete an application for financing and told him about rebates that made the payments more manageable. He is well into his eighties, uses a wheelchair and is struggling to buy groceries and pay for his medications. His daughter canceled the order right away, but she was told there would be a $1600 restocking fee. They sought help from the Area Agency on Aging and after numerous phone calls the company decided to waive the fee. I am sure it never occurred to the salesperson that this nice man was shopping for champagne on a beer budget, whether he could afford a $6,700 door was of no concern to the salesman working on commission.
We all know if it sounds too good to be true; it is. Be careful about the information you give out, ask yourself, why is the bank or credit card company asking me to verify my account information? Why is the doctor’s office asking for my Medicare number when they took a copy of my insurance card? Why is the creditor asking me to purchase $500 in gift cards? Why do I need to send money to get the money I won in the sweepstakes?
I have been in the business of helping elders for most of my life, I know the tricks; yet when Social Security called to tell me that my account was in jeopardy I almost called back! I came to my senses and hung up, but it was a close call. We are all at risk, be aware, be cynical and keep your information private and secure. If you suspect fraud report it to the police or adult protective services.