Assumption Parish Sheriff warns of 9 scams targeting elderly
NAPOLEONVILLE, LA (NBC33) — Sheriff Mike Waguespack would like the residents of Assumption parish to be aware of possible scam artists targeting seniors here in our parish. The following are common scams designed to trick consumers, especially the elderly, into giving up their money, property or personal information.
The IRS Scam – Scammers call an older person and say something such as, they found that the victim has underpaid their taxes for a few years. The victim is then told that the IRS has been sending certified letters that have gone unanswered. The victim is then told that he/she owes a certain amount of money, usually in the thousands of dollars. The victim is told to go to purchase a certain amount of Green Dot Visa money or Paypal cards. Once the victim gets the cards, the caller will ask for the card number off of the back. Money is then immediately transferred.
Computer Repair Scam – Swindlers call claiming to be from Microsoft or other companies “tech support” departments, informing you that you have a computer virus and offers to fix it remotely, for a fee. Instead, he gains remote control access of your computer, making the computer programs no longer accessible.
Door-to-Door Sales Scams – People go door-to-door and offer extraordinarily low prices for home improvement work, often stating the offer is only good at that moment. Door-to-door salespeople are often transient, and if you’re unsatisfied with the work or don’t receive the magazines you paid for in advance, there may be no way of finding them to get your money back. Check on all companies before doing business with the BBB, first. Take time to think about the offer; compare prices, shop locally, and ensure you know where the company is located should you have a problem later.
Charitable Donations Scams – Con artists disguised as being with a charity will ask for donations or money for raffles. You may think you’re helping those in need, but in reality you are helping crooks fill their pockets. Make donations only to charities that you are familiar with, and that you’ve checked their report with the BBB first. The BBB maintains reports on local and national charities, and those charities must meet certain standards including being transparent about where the collected money is going. You can check a BBB report at bbb.org or by calling (225) 346-5222.
Counterfeit Check Scams – While there are many variations of the fake check scam, scammers will often send a legitimate-looking check and ask you to deposit it into your bank account and wire a portion back to them. They may say that you’ve won money but need to pay a portion in taxes, or they offer you a “mystery shopping” job and say they’re paying you in advance, but a particular dollar amount needs to be returned and “you keep the rest.” In reality, the money you wired cannot be returned to you. If you deposit the check and withdraw any portion of it, you’ll be responsible for paying back your bank the entire amount plus any overdraft fees.
Health Care Scams – Scammers will call or e-mail misrepresenting they are Medicare or insurance representatives, stating they will be sending a new card or announcing a new plan and stating personal information is necessary. Sometimes, they’ll falsely state that an initial payment needs to be made for the new card or plan. Scammers are simply attempting to get personal or financial information and scam you out of money.
Telemarketing Scams – Telemarketing scams usually involve offers of free or low-cost products or devices, bogus health care products (such as supplemental insurance or prescription cards), and inexpensive vacation offers. Those age 60 and older and those that live alone are special targets. Never give personal or financial information over the phone to someone you don’t know, and make sure you are registered with the national (FTC) 1-888-382-1222 Do Not Call list. Report soliciting or suspicious phone calls. In most cases, you don’t need to know who called you or where they’re located, you only need the phone number to report.
Funeral & Cemetery Scams – Scammers read obituaries and call a grieving widow or widower claiming the deceased had an outstanding bill with them and then try to extort money from relatives to settle the fake debt. In another tactic, disreputable funeral homes will attempt to capitalize on family members’ unfamiliarity with the cost of funeral services to add unnecessary charges to the bill or attempt to sell high-end products or services.
Investment Schemes – During the senior years, it’s typical to plan for retirement and make financial plans. Scammers target seniors at this time because they know they’re retired and making plans to safeguard finances for their later years. Be wary of pyramid schemes (like Bernie Madoff’s), investment schemes promising quick and plentiful returns, advance-fee schemes, and foreign letter fraud schemes. Remember, If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Travel Scams – Travel offers come by mail, phone, fax, and e-mail and offer cheap rates, freebies, and promotions for travel packages or vacation clubs accompanied by “free” restaurant gift certificates, gas cards, or other gifts for attending presentations. These presentations obligate you to sit through high-pressure sales pitches. Know that it is unlikely you will get a refund once you sign a contract.
It’s extremely important to report the fraud you fell victim to, or even the pitch you received but didn’t fall for. Older Americans are least likely to report a fraud because they may be too embarrassed or feel ashamed if family members or friends find out.
If you feel that you may have been a victim of similar scam please contact the Criminal Investigative Division at 985-526-1627 or Communications Division at 985-369-2912.