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Seniors should learn golden rules for preventing scams

For the past couple of years, we have been writing about the different types of scams that are out there. All these scams have one thing in common — they want your money.

The criminals and organized crime members from around the world are always coming up with new scams, new ways of getting your money. These scams are widespread and change all the time to take advantage of new technology, current events and more.

We have tried to explain some of the more common scams, such as the IRS, grandparent and romance scams, just to name a few. We have tried to protect you by giving information on how to spot and fight these different scams.

Unfortunately, people are still being scammed, and criminals are still attempting to go after anyone they can. Older populations remain their main target.

Each year, millions of elderly Americans fall victim to some type of financial fraud, and according to reports, scammers are expected to steal more than $2 billion this year.

Some of the reasons that the elderly are targeted are because they tend to be very trusting and polite. Unfortunately, those days are gone. Scammers believe that seniors have nest eggs, are financially set and hold good credit. Additionally, seniors are less inclined to report fraud because they don’t know how or are too ashamed to admit that they are a victim. They might be concerned that their family will lose confidence in their abilities to manage their own financial affairs and take that away from them.

Here are some simple rules to follow to fight this growing and alarming problem:

• Be alert to calls or emails that demand immediate payment, sometimes by unusual means such as gift cards.

There is not a police or court or legal agency around that accepts gift cards as payment for any fees or fines.

The scammers create a sense of urgency and threaten you by stating that they will call the police if you don’t do what they ask. My daughter received a call for not paying the government money he / she claimed she owed. He / she sounded very convincing, until she told him / her that she had to talk to her dad the cop.

“Click” — he /she hung up.

• Remember that you can’t win a lottery or sweepstakes that you didn’t enter.

If someone calls and says that you won a prize but that you need to pay fees to get it, it’s a scam.

• Never, never, NEVER give your banking information to someone who contacts you unexpectedly over the phone or internet.

If he / she claims to be from a bank, utility company or a business you deal with, hang up and call the company with its phone number that’s associated with your bill to find out if it is legit.

• Be very careful about giving out personal information about yourself to someone you meet online.

We talked about the romance scam in our last article. Keep personal information out of the conversation until you can trust the person.

• On your computer, make sure your anti-virus and security software and malware protections are up to date, and use only reputable software.

If you see pop-up blockers such as “Warning, warning, your computer is infected,” this is usually done by perpetrators to spread malicious software. Disconnect from the internet and shut down your device. You can restart it in a few seconds.

Be very careful what you download and never open an email attachment from someone you don’t know — or even a video attachment from someone on your Facebook friends list asking, “Is this you?” Impostors will clone accounts to look like people you know.

Our goal here is to educate, to make you aware of the dangers out there just lurking around to steal from you. In order for us to try to stop this criminal activity, it will take all of us to work together and that includes law enforcement and especially you, the consumer, to put these people where they need to be — in jail.

Please, if you think that you are a victim of any type of scam, report it to law enforcement. If you have any questions regarding scams, possible victims or just want someone to talk to, please call me at 330-675-7096.

Be safe.

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