The FTC’s New Advisory Group to Fight Scams

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There are many different types of scams targeting seniors, from fraudulent investment schemes to fake lottery scams. And with seniors being one of the most vulnerable demographic groups when it comes to fraud, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has put together a new advisory group to help fight back against these scams.

How the FTC Advisory Group Will Fight Back

According to the FTC, this group is part of the Stop Senior Scams Act. It will bring together “federal agency partners, consumer advocates, and industry representatives” to identify and find ways to stop scams that target seniors.

A few of the ways that the group plans to do this are by:

  • Improving education efforts
  • Finding innovative ways to prevent scams
  • Improving industry training
  • Developing research to better understand how seniors are targeted by scammers

This initiative comes on the heels of a new program in Pennsylvania bringing together government agencies and community resources to help seniors who have been victimized by scams. This new wave of anti-scam efforts is a welcome relief for seniors.

The Seniors Center

The Seniors Center is here to help seniors stay safe from scams and other threats. Keep up with our latest posts on Twitter and Facebook and learn more about our mission today!

Apartment Rental Scams Can Hurt Seniors—Here’s What to Look For

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When looking for a new apartment, it’s important to be aware of rental scams. Unfortunately, many scammers target seniors specifically because they may be more trusting or less familiar with the internet and modern technology.

How Apartment Rental Scams Work

According to AARP, apartment rental scams typically follow a similar pattern:

The scammer finds a rental listing online, usually on a reputable website like Craigslist or Zillow. They then create a fake listing with similar or identical information, often using stolen photos.

Next, the scammer contacts potential victims, usually by email or text message. They may pose as the owner, manager, or leasing agent for the apartment and often claim to be out of town or unable to meet in person.

The scammer will try to get the victim to wire money for the deposit or first month’s rent, often using a fake identity or a fake website. They may also ask for personal information like a Social Security number or bank account number.

Once they have the victim’s money, the scammer disappears and is very difficult to track down.

What to Look For

There are a few red flags that can help you spot a rental scam:

  • The listing price is significantly lower than similar listings in the same area.
  • The person you’re dealing with is reluctant to meet in person or show you the apartment.
  • You’re asked to wire money or pay with a gift card.
  • You’re asked for personal information like your Social Security number before you’ve even signed a lease.

The Seniors Center Blog is here to help you avoid rental scams and other forms of fraud targeting seniors. If you haven’t already, be sure to follow The Seniors Center on Twitter and Facebook.

The Biggest Red Flags in Scam Calls

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We’ve all gotten calls from strangers claiming to be from the IRS or a “free” vacation. But how can you tell if a call is really a scam?

Sample Scam Calls

AARP has recently released a report detailing seven calls that they logged on their Fraud Watch Network Helpline. Reading through these examples can help you learn more about the ways that scammers try to trick people.

Here’s a few of their examples:

  • Medicare number requests: Be very careful about giving away your Medicare number. Scammers will often call pretending to be from Medicare and say that you need to verify your number for tests or benefits.
  • IRS imposters: These scammers will call and say that you owe money to the IRS and need to pay immediately or face consequences. They may even threaten to arrest you if you don’t pay.
  • Energy companies: Scammers will sometimes call pretending to be from an energy company like Con Edison or PSE&G. They’ll say that you need to pay your bill immediately or your service will be shut off.

As you read through these examples, see if you can spot the red flags. Was the caller asking for personal information? Were they threatening you with arrest or disconnection?

If you get a call like this, don’t panic. Hang up right away and report it to the FTC or your local police department. And remember, you can always say no to unsolicited calls.

The Seniors Center is here to help you stay informed and protect yourself from scams. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest updates.

What are some other red flags that you’ve spotted in scam calls? Share your experiences with us in the comments below!

Seniors Are Safer with These Three Scam Artists Behind Bars

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The tactics used to scam seniors are becoming more and more creative. But, luckily, law enforcement is catching up to these criminals. Recently, three scam artists who posed as family members in need of money were caught and will be sentenced in October. These scammers made phone calls to their victims, preying on their fears by saying they were in danger or in jail. Then, they would ask the seniors to gather cash before sending a courier to collect it.

According to the Department of Justice, these scam artists were able to steal more than $350,000 from fourteen Rhode Island seniors. But now that they’ve been caught, these seniors can sleep a little easier knowing that these criminals are behind bars.

If you’re ever in doubt about a phone call from a family member, hang up and call them back at a number you know to be safe. You can also ask a friend or neighbor to come over so you’re not alone while you verify the story. And, of course, never give out personal information or money to someone you don’t know.

For more tips on how to stay safe from scams, be sure to follow The Seniors Center on Twitter and Facebook. We’ll keep you updated with the latest information so you can protect yourself and your loved ones.

Don’t Fall for This Scam Involving Doctored Credentials

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Seniors are frequently targets of scammers who attempt to exploit their vulnerabilities. One popular scam that has been making the rounds lately is an impersonation scam involving doctored credentials.

How Does the Impersonation Scam Work?

The Social Security Matters Blog warns of the rise of this scam. How does it work? The scammer will contact the senior by phone, email, or even in person. They will then claim to be from a government agency or another credible source. The scammer may say that they need to verify the senior’s Social Security number or other personal information, or that they need to pay money to resolve an issue or receive a monetary reward of some kind.

It’s important to know that no government agency or credible source will ever contact a citizen and ask for personal information over the phone or via email.

If you are contacted by someone claiming to be from a government agency, do not give them any information. Instead, hang up the phone or delete the email. If you are contacted in person, ask to see their credentials. If they do not have any credentials, or if their credentials look fake or doctored in any way, do not give them any information.

The Seniors Center Blog

The Seniors Center Blog is here to warn you about this and other scams that target seniors. Stay informed and stay safe—and be to follow The Seniors Center on Twitter and Facebook for our latest updates!

VIDEO: Former FBI Director’s Response to Being Targeted by Scammers

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Even our nation’s top law enforcement officials can be the targets of elder fraud.

In 2021 alone, more than 92,000 seniors were victims of elder fraud. And one scammer picked an unfortunate target: the former director of the FBI and his wife. Watch below to see how former FBI Director William Webster and his wife Lynda handled a scammer who took it a step further by threatening violence.

While not every senior has the same connections as former members of the FBI, everyone can learn from how he and his wife handled this situation. They shut down the scammer and reached out for help right away.

Lynda advocates for a community approach to end elder fraud. “The younger people have to keep an eye on mom or dad or an elderly neighbor,” CBS News quotes her as saying. Checking in on elderly friends or neighbors can help protect them from scams.

Never give out personal information, no matter how benign it may seem. Even something as seemingly innocuous as your birthday can be used to scam you. Be especially wary of anyone who contacts you out of the blue, whether it’s by phone, text, email, or in person.

If you think you’ve been the victim of elder fraud, reach out to your local law enforcement or the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

The Seniors Center is committed to helping seniors stay safe from elder fraud. Keep up with our latest updates by following us on Twitter and Facebook today!

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How a Massachusetts Woman Stole from Residents in Senior Living Facilities

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Scams targeting seniors are always heartless. But one of the worst ways that criminals attempt to steal from seniors is by first posing as a trusted helper.

That’s exactly what happened recently at a senior living facility in Massachusetts, where a woman posing as a nurse’s aid was caught stealing precious valuables and money from residents.

According to AP News, the woman had personal checks, valuables, and ID cards from a number of senior living communities. By targeting individuals in senior living with dementia, she was able to steal without anyone noticing.

Seniors can stay safe by being wary of anyone asking for sensitive information. While scammers will continue to pose as helpful professionals, being alert and aware of your surroundings is important.

The Seniors Center is working to educate and inform seniors to help them stay safe. From senior scams to Social Security, we have the latest information on what seniors need to know. Visit our website for more information.

To find out more about what you can do to protect yourself or your loved ones, visit our website—or follow us on Twitter and Facebook so you never miss an update.

Stay Safe from Fraudulent Check Schemes

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When looking at the different ways that scam artists target seniors, it’s easy to focus on the ones that lure victims in with emotional appeals. Grandparent and sweetheart scams are both examples of this. But there’s another type of scam that’s just as dangerous, if not more so — the fraudulent check scheme.

How One Las Vegas Man Swindled Seniors Out of Millions

One recent example of an especially insidious fraudulent check scheme took place in Las Vegas. A 76-year-old resident of the city, Michael Zeto, was discovered to be stealing money from other seniors’ bank accounts by depositing fraudulent checks.

He first purchased the names and bank account information of senior citizens from foreign telemarketers. He created checks in their names and deposited them into his own business accounts. Zeto has since been caught, however, and faces many years in prison for this form of fraud.

Stay Safe from Fraudulent Check Schemes

Fraudulent check schemes are just one of the many ways that scam artists target seniors. But there are steps you can take to protect yourself.

The most important thing is to be aware of the signs of fraud. If someone you don’t know asks you to deposit a check for them, be very suspicious. Never give out your bank account information to someone you don’t know.

You should also keep a close eye on your bank account. Check your statements regularly and report any suspicious activity to your bank immediately. If you do become the victim of fraud, be sure to contact the police so they can catch the person responsible.

By following these simple steps, you can help keep yourself safe from fraudulent check schemes and other types of scams. At The Seniors Center, we’re helping seniors stay safe — and providing helpful information about Social Security and other issues impacting older Americans. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to learn more!

Watch Out for Phishing Scams—This One Almost Fooled Keith Hernandez

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Phishing scams are becoming more and more sophisticated—so much so that even a savvy guy like Keith Hernandez almost fell for one.

What Are Phishing Scams?

Phishing scams are a type of fraud where scammers send emails or texts that look like they’re from a legitimate company in an attempt to get you to share personal information like your Social Security number, credit card number, or bank account login information.

They might also try to get you to download software that will give them access to your computer or device.

Once they have this information, they can use it to commit identity theft or financial fraud.

Hernandez, a former MLB player and current broadcaster for the New York Mets, recently shared his story of how he almost fell victim to a phishing scam. He received an email that looked very official, purporting to be from Florida Power & Light, saying he needed to pay them a deposit or his power would be shut off.

The email looked legitimate at first glance, and he even called the number they gave him. But luckily, he called his bank before he gave them any of his personal information.

This incident is a reminder that we all need to be careful about the emails we open and click on. If you’re ever unsure about the legitimacy of an email, it’s best to err on the side of caution and not click on any links or attachments.

Stay Safe from Scams

If you think you may have been the victim of a phishing scam, you can report it to the Federal Trade Commission. You can also learn more about how to protect yourself from these types of scams by keeping up with The Seniors Center‘s latest posts.

How The Seniors Fraud Prevention Act Will Help Older Americans

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Too often, the tactics used to put an end to scams targeting seniors only work once fraud or abuse has taken place. It’s more difficult to prevent fraud in the first place. However, a new law, The Seniors Fraud Prevention Act, could help.

What is The Seniors Fraud Prevention Act?

Just last week, President Biden signed the bill into law, according to reporting from CBS affiliate WGME. The Seniors Fraud Prevention Act enjoys bipartisan support and exists to protect senior citizens from becoming victims of scams in the first place. The act provides for a new office within the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that will work to root out scams and provide education for vulnerable seniors.

A few of the provisions of the act include:

  • Enhanced fraud monitoring
  • Increased consumer education on scams and forms of fraud
  • A stronger complaint tracking system at the Federal Trade Commission

These efforts can help protect seniors from fraud, but avoiding falling for a scam involves vigilance as well. If you suspect that you are being targeted in a scam, report it to the FTC right away.

The Seniors Center works to serve as a resource to older Americans by educating our readers on fraud, scams, and issues surrounding Social Security. Stay up-to-date on our latest posts by following The Seniors Center on Twitter and Facebook today!