Beware of emergency response phone scam

NILES — A Mahoning County resident reported a phone scam that resulted in her giving her checking information to someone claiming to be with an emergency response system company.

The scam took place Thursday after an employee of Area Agency on Aging 11 completed an assessment for services. Later that day, someone called the woman and claimed that payment was needed to start services for an emergency response system, which is an alert button or system to receive help in the event of a fall or emergency.

The caller asked the elderly woman for a credit card, but she did not have one. He asked for her check information to begin service.

The woman’s son is contacting the bank to stop payment on the check.

“We urge people never to give personal or banking information over the phone,” said Lisa Solley, director of communications for the agency office in Niles. “If agency employees meet with someone about services, those services are ordered through our agency after the consumer selects one of our certified providers. A designated employee coordinates services, and the agency will never ask for a credit card or banking information over the phone.”

If someone receives a questionable call, tell the caller you will contact our Agency for more information.

Exploitation and fraud fall under elder abuse, which takes on many forms besides physical abuse. It also includes emotional abuse, and self-neglect.

In 2016, federal officials estimated that one in five older adults have been defrauded, resulting in $2.6 billion a year. The most popular swindles involve telemarketers and mail fraud. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that dishonest telemarketers take in an estimated $40 million a year.

Here are tips on how to protect yourself:

l You can say no to any telephone sales pitch. You can hang up on telephone salespeople. That’s not being rude — that’s taking care of yourself.

l Always ask for and wait until you receive written material about any offer or charity. Don’t buy from an unknown company or charity. Charitable organizations must register with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. Verify organizations by calling 800-282-0515.

l Don’t give your credit card or bank account numbers to people who call you, even if they say they are from the bank, Medicare or other trusted sources. Neither your bank nor Medicare will ever call you asking for this information. Protect your Medicare number as you do your credit card numbers and do not allow anyone else to use it.