It seems that every day a new phone scam targets seniors. The method and authenticity is more difficult to distinguish from the scams of yesterday that promised “new rain gutters by the end of the day for a mere $10,000″!
Creative phone scams are targeting seniors and families every day. And, as scammers become more sophisticated, it’s more difficult to identify and distinguish the many twists a potential scam call can present.
We have discussed various phone scams in this blog before. However, with the changing scope of calls and the increased frequency of calls, it’s important that we continue to share the methods and tricks the callers use to obtain confidential financial information.
Just this week alone, three different friends shared telephone scams that they experienced in their own homes!
1. A caller claiming to be a representative of a military veterans’ agency phoned a retired military veteran and acted as if a previous phone call
had been disconnected. The caller immediately asked for the senior’s name and the last four digits of his social security number in order to continue the previous call. The senior asked the caller for her name and office location two times before the caller hung up.
2. A neighbor received a phone call from someone claiming to represent her bank. The caller declared that suspicious activity was noted on the senior’s account and the senior should provide secure information such as last few digits of the account number to continue the call and to secure the account. The senior asked for a call-back telephone number and a very professional voice gladly provided a telephone number. The senior phoned her bank via the local phone number on her bank statement. The first call was bogus, the call-back telephone number was not the bank’s telephone number and the senior did the right thing by
verifying the authenticity of the caller by NOT calling the phone number provided during the call.
3. Finally, a third friend reported that she received a very official-looking letter from her credit card company. The letter stated that fraudulent activity occurred on her credit card, and she was to call the 1-800 number for the credit card company’s fraud department. Instead of contacting the phone number in the letter, the recipient placed a call to the phone number printed on her credit card. Again, the account was in good standing and there were no erroneous charges on her card.
Always clarify and verify when an unsolicited caller reaches you. You may ask for a call-back number, but utilize a known phone number to call back and verify the information that has been reported to you.
In years’ past, telephone scammers were successful because they were able to befriend isolated and home bound elderly with a long, chatty phone call. Today, scammers are successful because they appear to want to stop fraud and we all want to act quickly to nip fraud before we’re financially threatened. Therefore, it’s important for us to remain vigilant and not share confidential or financial information — even if we believe that we’re helping the “good guys”.