It’s summertime, and the slimeballs are kicking into high gear, according to the state attorney general.
The attorney general’s office released a list of the most notorious scams specifically targeting elderly New Yorkers. Each one is a ruse to get your money or personal information.
The grandparent scam. A caller pretends to be your grandchild, saying they’re in some kind of trouble and need you to send money. Sometimes they say they’re in jail, sometimes they’ve crashed a rental car, but they always ask you not to tell their parents. They may use names of family members and other information they’ve found on social media sites.
Jury duty. This scam uses a caller posing as a court officer, saying the victim has failed to report for jury duty and must pay a fine immediately or be arrested.
Lottery scam. A scammer calls with the wonderful news you’ve won a big cash prize and that all you have to do to claim your winnings is pay a few thousand dollars in taxes or read off your bank account number so they can deposit it directly. But the only ones hitting the jackpot are the criminals whose scams are successful.
IRS scam. A caller claims to be an IRS agent or police officer calling about a past-due tax balance. If the debt isn’t paid immediately, the victim will be arrested.
Utility scam. Posing as a utility company, a scammer says you must pay an overdue bill immediately or have your service shut off.
So what can you do to prevent being scammed?
Don’t engage in unsolicited calls. If you are the person making a call to a number you know and trust, giving information over the phone is OK. For example, calling for a pizza and giving your credit card number, or calling your doctor and giving your insurance information is fine.
But if you’re on the receiving end of a phone call, don’t divulge anything. Just hang up the phone. Call the company back using a number you have found and verified – NOT the number from your Caller ID.
No matter where the caller claims to be calling from, or what information they already know about you, hang up the phone and call the institution they say they’re from by using the verified number you have for that institution.
Someone calls saying they’re from the electric company and need to verify your billing information? Great. Hang up on them, get the electric company’s number from your phone book, and call them back with it.
Scammers can make false information show up on your caller ID, so even if your Caller ID shows that you’re receiving a call from your bank or displays the phone number for the IRS, for example, you still can’t trust it.
Beware secrets. When was the last time a company called you and asked to keep your business with them a secret? If a caller tells you not to tell anyone about your conversation with them, that’s a huge sign that you’re dealing with a scammer.
Hang up. Don’t feel rude hanging up on a caller, even if it turns out to be a legitimate call. Companies and government agencies encourage their consumers to take safety precautions. If it really was them calling you, they’ll probably salute you for being so careful.
Remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
If you fall victim to a scam, file a report with the Attorney General’s office by calling (800) 771-7755.
email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter, @DiscountDivaSam.