Seniors are often vulnerable to con artists who call them and try all sorts of tricks to steal their money. Never – never, ever – give anyone your personal information, such as your credit card number unless you initiated the call, perhaps to your bank or to a catalog company. The best way to protect yourself: hang up the phone.
But if you suspect you received a fraudulent call, notify the county’s Department of Consumer Protection right away at (914) 995-2167.
People who lead senior groups should be aware of Westchester County’s Senior Crime Busters initiative and request a presentation for their group about how to prevent scams and other important issues. Speakers who will come to your group include members of the county’s public safety and consumer protection departments as well as from the offices of the attorney general and the county district attorney. To reach Senior Crime Busters, call (914) 995-2190.
Here is a partial listing of some scams against seniors that are currently making the rounds in Westchester.
The Medical Alert Scam
This scam seems to work through robo-calls where con artists tell seniors that they have been “approved” for medical alert equipment at no charge. They identify the business as “Senior Medical Alert” or “Senior Medical Advisors.” The con artists will then ask the seniors for their credit card numbers and use it to bill them every month for “monitoring services” they never receive. They also use scare tactics to induce consumers to respond to the offer warning of a “significant rise” in the number of senior citizens who delayed and as a result suffered death or serious life-threatening injuries.
Electric Service Companies
Con Edison continues to deliver electricity to homes and apartments but because of deregulation, other so-called “energy service companies” can provide the power. Be wary of callers who quickly try to get you to switch providers.
Health Care/Medicare/Health Insurance Fraud
Every U.S. citizen or permanent resident over age 65 qualifies for Medicare, so there is rarely any need for anyone to research what private health insurance company older people have. In these types of scams, perpetrators pose as Medicare representatives and trick seniors into providing personal information to them. Scam artists use the personal information they collect to set up false identities (ID Theft) and to also bill Medicare for fake treatments and services that are never provided.
The Pigeon Drop
The con artist tells the individual that he/she has found a large sum of money and is willing to split it, if the Senior will make a “good faith” payment to the con artist by withdrawing funds from his/her bank account. Often, a second con artist is involved, posing as a lawyer, banker, or some other trustworthy stranger.
The Relative or Grandchild Scam
The con artist gets the victim to wire or send money on the pretext that the senior’s child, or grandchild or another relative is in jail or in the hospital and needs the money.
Magazine Sales and Lottery Scams
Magazine sales are offered with the proceeds going to fake charities. Lottery “Winners” can collect winning lottery amounts by first sending a finder’s fee.