We don’t know how telemarketers know that they are calling seniors but it seems obvious that seniors get more than their share of marketing and fraudulent telephone calls.
I know that every week I get emails offering to sell me lists of certain groups from chiropractors to dentists so lists of seniors must be out there somewhere. What we do know is that these calls are not welcomed and in some cases outright abusive and criminal.
Many seniors have already been made aware of the grandparents scam but I will describe it for those who haven’t. This scam involves a person who impersonates your grandchild and says they are in some kind of trouble and they need you to send them money immediately and “don’t tell anyone”. Sometimes they know a few details of the family but often they don’t. I know one senior who got the call who wasn’t even a grandparent! Sadly, some grandparents are tricked, put through emotional turmoil about what is happening to their grandchild, and then taken for a chunk out of their bank account.
Other scams involve persons who call on behalf of your “bank”, asking that you help them by taking money out to help them catch a bank employee. Or they say there is something wrong with your account and need you to give them information to fix it. NEVER give anyone who calls you your bank information over the phone. Also, do not have anyone fix your computer over the phone as they can steal all your Internet information.
Other trickery involves sales and marketing ploys that promise things that are never delivered or are not needed. Contractors who say they will do the work on your house who then run away with the deposit have targeted some persons. Others have been sold vacuum cleaners that they don’t need or cell phone features they will never use. Others are signed up for services they want but really the person on the phone just wants their personal information. Never be pressured to make a decision and always check out the company before you say you will purchase a product.
Have you ever been called because you won a prize or free trip? This is usually a scam, too. If you have really won something, you should recall entering a contest and you never have to send money. Take back control and hang up on these folks. Never tell them anything about yourself.
Identity fraud is a serious concern and once you are targeted your life can really be messed up. They can change your address so they get your mail, or they can take out money in your name, or they can order a credit card you will never see, or they can transfer money and empty your bank account. For those who have pride in having an excellent credit rating this is a horrible blow. Beware if you are not getting bills or statements. Look out if credit card companies that you have never dealt with before contact you. Scrutinize your bank and credit card statements and tell them promptly if you think there are errors. Shred your personal papers.
Most of the banks now have employees who are educated about fraud and can help you if you feel unsure about some transactions. Restricting your balance and daily withdrawal amount on your credit card and bankcard can be a wise idea, too.
If you do notice a fraud, contact the local OPP immediately. Call PhoneBusters at 1-888-495-8501. Also, get listed with the National Do Not Call List at 1-866-580-3625. Once you are listed you can have a ready answer to all the telemarketers and can threat to report them if they harass you.