One of my pet peeves is people who prey on seniors with scams.
I have written a few articles about numerous ways someone goes after unsuspecting people to try to get money out of them. Of course, it’s awful for whoever is on the receiving end but my Brooklyn goes bananas when someone targets one of us! Perhaps they think all seniors are fair game but not so fast, we are onto you. As they pop up, I will continue to share information that may help you to deter a possible financial disaster.
Yesterday I had not one but two calls early in the morning. I suppose they think if they wake me out of a dead sleep at 7 a.m. that I will be more vulnerable. Groggy, yes, but not vulnerable. The first caller was trying to sell me a timeshare. I know, you’re thinking, that’s crazy. Nobody calls about those anymore. They don’t call any less! As soon as I heard the T word, I asked politely if he knew what time it was. OK, I lied, I wasn’t that polite. He told me the early bird catches the worm and he was in Los Angeles so he knew it was o’dark thirty! I told him to please take me off his list and he replied, “I can’t do that.” At this point I was pretty much fully awake. My polite pill wore off, and I was a tad less ladylike in my next response. There’s that Brooklyn coming out. I hung up and blocked the number so I am sure he will never call again. Well, at least not from that number.
The next call, which was about 10 minutes later, was a recording. Apparently, the IRS is looking for me again and a warrant for my arrest was being processed. Do these people with a foreign accent really believe that I will send them a Target gift card in lieu of jail time to pay off my IRS debt? The one I don’t have, by the way? Did they also know that the IRS is very busy with the government being on partial shutdown right now? As I mentioned before, the IRS will never call you. A registered letter may indeed be realistic from them but never a call. Plus, they don’t threaten to put you in jail unless of course you are Al Capone. If you get a call like this, don’t be alarmed, just hang up and block the number.
According to AARP, one of my go-to sources for accurate and helpful information, there are ways to avoid being a target or at least cut back on the possibilities. Scammers are very clever. They look for people who will naively send out information that these sleuths prey on. Some things to help deter them are pretty simple fixes. As much as we all would love to win contests and imagine someday a man with a giant check and bunch of balloons will knock on the door, AARP suggests strongly you avoid entering mail order or online contests. As always, they share information and you become inundated with unwanted sales calls. Believing in luck according to them makes you a target for those who will lure you with false hope.
When you purchase a small appliance like a coffee maker you’ll find a warranty card included. Some even ask about your income. This card is also shared with other vendors, which leads to more unwanted attention. I don’t know about you but I never fill those out. If the coffee maker dies it’s usually after many years and that card is worthless anyway. When you receive regular mail and it’s filled with ads, make sure you shred or tear up the part that has your address, personal information and most importantly any account numbers that may be on it. That goes for any bank statements or credit-card bills as well.
Last hint for this piece is about obituaries. Honoring someone we love and letting people know they are gone is a nice thing to do. Scammers, as repulsive as this may be, will make these a hunting ground. Keep personal information to a minimum, sharing only pertinent data about funeral times and basic details.
I scratch my head at the audacity of some people. They think, I have no money, you have money, give me YOUR money. If you have questions about a possible scam, AARP has a Fraud Watch number helpline, which is 877-908-3360, or you can visit aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork. Don’t be a victim.
Marla Luckhardt is a Brentwood resident who works with senior care and advocacy groups. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.