Don’t Get Scammed

Citizens warned about local scams for elderly, fire inspections

The Pleasanton and Jourdanton Police Department have received several complaints of attempts at scamming area elderly citizens. Some of these incidents stemmed from a phone call and others have originated online. The vast majority of these cases originated in other countries and are very difficult to prosecute.

Chief Ronald Sanchez recommends speaking to any elderly family members and keep them informed of these scams. He added “The old adage applies, ‘if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,’ and rings very true in these incidents.”

Elderly citizens should be very cautious to whom they hand out bank account information and all personal information.

“It is highly unlikely that your bank will ask for account information over the phone. Any time you receive a check for a large amount of money from persons unknown to you, please bring it to the police department,” said Sanchez. “We want to ensure the financial safety of all of the elders in our community.”

If there are any questions please contact the police department. Below are some scams that are targeting our elderly community. Chief Sanchez encourages citizens share this with family and friends. They appeared on Bankrate.com, by Teri Cettina, entitled Fraud:6 scams aimed at the elderly.

Highlights

The elderly are scammed out of some $2.6 billion per year.

It’s illegal for Americans to enter a lottery in a foreign country.

Donations for Haitian relief should be made through the Red Cross.

If you’re visiting your elderly mom or dad and see an excessive amount of junk mail, take note: Your elderly parent might be a prime target for fraud.

“If your parents’ mail is filled with sweepstakes notifications, free gift offers and more magazines than they could possibly read, chances are good they’re on a ‘sucker list,’” warns John Breyault, director of the National Consumers League’s fraud center. Once a senior takes the bait for one scam, thieves sell the person’s name, address and telephone number, and fake mailings proliferate.

You should also be concerned if your elderly parent receives lots of telephone sales calls while you’re visiting, or mentions getting 20 or more unsolicited phone calls per day. “Scammers know senior citizens answer their phone, and are reluctant to hang up on anyone,” says Jean Mathisen, director of AARP’s Fraud Fighter Call Center. And as with junk mail, rip-off artists sell names and phone numbers of seniors who prove to be phone-receptive.

Although it’s widely believed to be under reported, a 2009 study by MetLife’s Mature Market Institute estimates that seniors lose approximately $2.6 billion per year due to financial abuse — fraud, as well as theft by family members and acquaintances.

If you suspect your parent may be vulnerable to false offers — even if they haven’t been hooked yet — take time to educate them, says Breyault. If Mom and Dad are Internet-savvy, direct them to the Federal Trade Commission’s Web site where they can read up on the latest reported financial schemes. AARP also reports on senior fraud stories, as does the National Consumers League, or NCL.

You can also print out articles for the elderly about the latest senior scams. A few to watch for:

The Social Security rip-off

This recent scam involves ID thieves stealing personal information and contacting the Social Security Administration to change the payment routing information to the thieves’ own bank accounts or prepaid debit cards.

Jourdanton Police Department shared these scams as well.

DEA Agents

Local residents have been getting phone calls from individuals who identify themselves as “D.E.A. Agents” and inform them that they have an arrest warrant pending. They demand payment (usually $2000- $3000) be made via Western Union immediately or they will be sending agents to arrest them in the next hour. They also claim that if they contact local police or a lawyer they will be arrested.

DO NOT SEND MONEY to people who are claiming to be law enforcement officials over the phone. DO NOT SEND money to strangers via Western Union.

Legitimate law enforcement officials do not operate in this manner and will usually conduct business in person. Legitimate police officers do not collect money for fines. Fines are typically paid to a court, not to law enforcement. If you receive a call like this contact your local law enforcement agency.

What the senior should do: Be wary of any calls or emails requesting personal information. One ruse the thieves use: They tell the senior they need a bank account number so they can deposit big prize money in the account. The senior can take preemptive action by notifying the Social Security Administration to block all account changes not made in person at www.socialsecurity. gov/block access. Seniors who suspect fraud can contact the SSA’s inspector general.

The grandparents scheme

The senior answers his phone and a young voice says, “Hey, Grandpa, it’s your favorite grandson, and I’m in trouble.” Senior says, “John, is that you?” The caller responds, yes, it’s John — he’s calling from a friend’s cell phone and he’s been in an accident. He’s out of state and needs his grandpa to wire some money right away.

What the senior should do: Check with family members to see if the grandchild is truly traveling. Never volunteer names to “grandkids” that don’t immediately identify themselves, says Breyault. Chances are good that the caller will hang up if the elderly person challenges him.

The fake lottery/sweepstakes

This mail scam comes in two flavors: The “pay to play” scheme or the “You’ve won! Here’s your check” scam. The first ploy entices seniors to buy inexpensive trinkets or magazine subscriptions (which they really do receive) in order to have their name entered in the contest. In the second case, the elderly person receives an authentic-looking check, with notification they’ve already won the Jamaican (or another foreign country) lottery.

What the senior should do: Shred both offers. It’s illegal for companies to require you to buy anything to enter a sweepstakes. If they do, they’re scammers, says Breyault. It’s also illegal for Americans to enter a foreign country’s lottery. These scams require the “winner” to wire back a share of their “winnings” (which will initially clear the bank but later prove counterfeit) for taxes or administrative fees.

Fire Inspections

Pleasanton City Fire Marshal Scott Garris has shared a possible scam involving fire inspections at local businesses.

A female is visiting businesses asking to perform maintenance on fire extinguishers and kitchen venthood suppression systems. This person has been described as a Hispanic female in her 30s approximately 5’3”-5’6” tall and is known to arrive at businesses during odd hours such as after 5 p.m. or during lunch rush trying to catch unsuspecting business owners off guard. This person also asks for cash payments. She is claiming to be performing this maintenance and it has been found that she has been placing inspection tags on extinguishers which are empty or past its hydrostatic test date and is not recharging extinguishers when needed.

This individual within the last couple of weeks has appeared again in attempt to scam unknowing business owners out of money. She is allegedly hitting smaller family owned businesses that she feels may not be aware of what is required. Things to be especially watchful for are type of vehicle with license plate and any other identifiers on the vehicle such as stickers or bumper stickers. She is using blue inspection tags with a company name of Safety Protection Inc. out of San Antonio. It is believed that she is a previous employee of the company using stolen inspection tags.

It is imperative for this individual to be caught due to the Fire and Life Safety of anyone who enters these buildings for business or pleasure. If anyone knows of or can obtain information about this person, please contact the Pleasanton Fire Marshal or Pleasanton Police Department.

READ MORE: www.bankrate.com/finance/retirement/fraud- 5-scams-aimed-at-the-elderly-1. aspx#ixzz2KKaCROSE. Social Security Online Services :www.socialsecurity. gov



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