Seniors the Target for Scammers Using the Telephone

eniors the Target for Scammers Using the Telephone

We've written a lot about scams over time and the simple fact is that, like war and poverty, they never seem to disappear.

Rita Fulginiti, the County Clerk of Cape May County, NJ, reports that a former county resident got a call, reputedly from Fulginiti's office, saying she had an outstanding warrant for her arrest and told her where to wire the payment to have the warrant dismissed.

The senior called Fulginiti, who told her there was no warrant and "We don't make collection calls," which is also true of the IRS and other government agencies.

According to Middle Township Police Captain John Edwards, the best thing you can do when you get a call like that is "just hang up."

Identity theft continues to be one of the most pervasive scams and it has many forms — all of which are aimed at stealing your money. A fast-growing crime that costs taxpayers billions of dollars a year involves someone stealing a taxpayer's personal information (including their Social Security number) and then using that information to file a fraudulent tax return to claim refunds; claim someone else's children as dependents, and earning wages under that person's Social Security number. 

AARP's Fraud Watch suggests you destroy rather than discard old tax returns, bank records, credit card receipts, Medicare cards and other things that contain your personal information. Do not provide that information to people you do not know and who call on the phone offering something free or ask for your information as part of a "survey" or similar scam.

Do not respond to emails that appear to be from the IRS and never click on links! As noted, the IRS does not send unsolicited tax-related emails and never asks for personal or financial information.

Also be aware of summer scammers who go door-to-door offering a "free security inspection." He may be checking your home for a possible burglary or might tell you need some unnecessary repair work and then ask for a down-payment "up front" to secure the deal. Chances are you will never see him again.

It's a good idea to monitor your checking and other financial accounts regularly and report any irregularities. Sign up for your free annual credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com.

If you think you're the victim of tax ID theft, file a report with the local police; contact your bank and credit card companies; inform credit bureaus and consider freezing your accounts. A credit freeze restricts access to credit reports and makes unlikely that thieves can open new accounts in your name. Then contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490 and complete Form 14039.

Remember, it's your responsibility to protect yourself against scammers. The more you know, the greater the chance that you will not fall victim to their tactics.

Beau Weisman, Editor