Se­niors should be on the look­out and be ex­tra care­ful about hol­i­day scams

Cherokee County Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

MONT­GOMERY— The Alabama Depart­ment of Se­nior Ser­vices wants se­niors and their fam­ily mem­bers to ex­er­cise ex­tra pre­cau­tion this hol­i­day sea­son and be on the look­out for scams. While se­niors can be pri­mary tar­gets of scams through­out the year, dur­ing the hol­i­days it is im­por­tant for them to be on spe­cial no­tice.

One com­mon ex­am­ple of a scam a se­nior might en­counter dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son is the “Grand­par­ent Scam.” This in­volves the scam­mer call­ing pre­tend­ing to be a rel­a­tive (grand­child, niece, nephew, etc.). The caller will phone in the mid­dle of the night claim­ing to be the rel­a­tive in des­per­ate need of money. They may say they are out of the coun­try in trou­ble or they are in jail need­ing bail money. Usu­ally, they re­quest that money must be paid im­me­di­ately by credit card or wire trans­fer.

To pro­tect against this type of scam the se­nior should ask ques­tions about things only that rel­a­tive would know, for ex­am­ple, the lo­ca­tion of the last fam­ily re­union or a birth­date. They should also con­tact a sep­a­rate fam­ily mem­ber to ver­ify that the rel­a­tive really is in im­me­di­ate need of help be­fore send­ing any money. The se­nior should never wire money to any­one with­out ver­i­fy­ing this in­for­ma­tion first.

An­other com­mon ex­am­ple is the “Fake Char­i­ties Scam.” Here scam­mers will take ad­van­tage of se­niors by pos­ing as a gen­uine char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tion. They use high-pres­sure tac­tics to at­tempt to get the se­nior to do­nate money im­me­di­ately, ei­ther by cash, credit card, or wire trans­fer. They will even of­fer to send a courier or overnight de­liv­ery ser­vice to your home to col­lect the do­na­tion.

A good prac­tice for th­ese types of calls would be for the se­nior to ask spe­cific ques­tions about the char­ity and also ask for a call back num­ber. The se­nior can then call the or­ga­ni­za­tion di­rectly to ver­ify the in­for­ma­tion and also find out if the or­ga­ni­za­tion is aware of some­one so­lic­it­ing on their be­half. The se­nior should be wary if asked to im­me­di­ately pay in cash, check or credit card, or a wire trans­fer.

Se­niors and all con­sumers can never be too care­ful, too pre­pared, or too aware. The best method to for se­niors to pro­tect them­selves is to stop, ask ques­tions, and ver­ify in­for­ma­tion.

If a se­nior or a care­giver en­coun­ters this type of scam dur­ing the hol­i­days or through­out the year, they can call 1-800-AGELINE to re­port it and get to the cor­rect agency for fur­ther ac­tion.

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