Never before have people had so many methods of communicating with each other. Mobile phones, email and social media help us to stay in touch by simply pressing a few buttons. Unfortunately, not everyone using these technologies is honest. Some people use them to commit fraud, identity theft or other harmful scams. But with a healthy dose of common sense and caution, you can avoid becoming a victim of one of these corrupt senior scams.
Telephone Safety and Fraud Prevention
Screen Incoming Calls
Starting with your home and mobile phone, it is simple to stop suspicious callers from ever reaching you. First, set-up a caller ID device or use a phone that shows who is calling. Look at the incoming number before you answer. If the number is blocked/unavailable, a toll-free number, or unfamiliar to you, don’t answer. Let your voicemail pick up the call. If they don’t leave a message, they didn’t need to reach you. If they do leave a message and it is still an unfamiliar caller or company, run it past a trusted friend or family member before returning the call.
Just Say No
If you do answer and a caller is asking for personal or financial information, or they want to send you something on a trial basis, JUST SAY NO and hang up the phone. They will move on to the next call. Never agree to anything over the phone until you have had a chance to read it in writing.
Beware of Imposters
Note: the IRS does not call taxpayers. They always send a written notice and will NEVER demand payment or personal/financial information over the phone. If someone calls saying they are from your bank or credit card company, and then starts asking for your personal information, tell them you will call back. Then you can call back using the number that you have on your financial statement or the back of your credit card. Don’t give anyone personal or financial information over the telephone because they may be imposters.
Block Unwanted Callers
Most home phone services and all mobile phones have a way to block calls from numbers that you know are unwanted. Your caller ID will keep a record of callers that did not leave a message, or from whom you do not wish to receive calls. Add them to your blocked number list. You should also register all of your phone numbers on the FCC’s National DO NOT CALL registry. You can register by calling toll-free from the phone you wish to register- 1-888-382-1212. Or you can go online at www.donotcall.gov to register. The FCC’s do-not-call rules require callers that are not exempt from the rules to stop telemarketing calls 30 days after you register a number.