There are many ways to scam people, from sending junk mail to phishing emails. The majority of these shams require personal information such as your name, date of birth, credit card information and bank account numbers. From these falsified campaigns, your money and your identity can be stolen.
Robocalling is a new and extremely heinous way companies and individuals around the world can collect your personal information. This type of scam particularly targets the elderly.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently announced that a Florida-based company has made $13 million in falsified sales since 2012 using this method.
In the August 2013 AARP Bulletin, an article, Cause for Alarm, by Sid Kirchheimer, said this: The calls can grab your attentions, as a grim recorded voice warns of increasing rates of death and injury from a fall or another home-alone medical emergency. But the real incentive to proceed and press 1 may be the promise of a free medical alert device that will quickly bring help when you need it the most.
The promise of a free medical alert system is quite the incentive for many seniors, many of whom are on government aid. Some of the robocalls will even say that a family member or doctor asked them to call the senior to offer this free service. When the senior presses the 1, a kind and soft-spoken person will be on the other end to collect their information, including their social security number and credit card information. The scammers claim to need this, the FTC says, to process the free medical alert system.
As disgusting and horrible as this is, it is a real issue. What kind of person would actually steal money from the elderly? Apparently a lot of people. However, there are ways to avoid scams like this one. If you are a senior, or a caregiver, child, grandchild or friend of a senior, you should be aware of this situation.
Here are five ways that you can protect seniors from being scammed:
Be wary of the word free
The AARP Bulletin s Cause for Alarm article says Flee from free. This is true, and not just for this situation. Don t respond to any advertisement, phone call or email claiming to offer free services or medical equipment.
Never give out personal information over the phone
Your personal information is personal for a reason. If anyone calls or emails asking for any information about yourself, proceed with extreme caution.
Shout it from the rooftops
Book clubs, social media, knitting groups; wherever you are, make sure that you are telling everyone around you to be aware of the free medical alert system hoax.
If you receive a call from an actual solicitor, don t give them any information; simply ask them to take you off of the calling list and hang up. If it is a robocall, hang up immediately and don t press any buttons. According to the Cause for Alarm article, pressing buttons for an opt-out option will just alert the caller s system that your number is a working one and they will continue to call.
Screen your calls
Many seniors still use landlines. If this is the case for a senior you know, do them a favor and check to make sure it has caller ID. If not, purchase them a landline phone that does have caller ID and teach them how to use it. Advise them not to answer any calls from numbers that are unfamiliar.
Seniors across the country are fighting back, and so can you! Talk to your friends about any call or email you think is suspicious. Chances are, if it is a scam, they will be receiving a robocall shortly. If you truly feel threatened by any of these scamming situations, please call the police and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at FTCComplaintAssistant.gov. Be aware, be educated and be smart.