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IDENTITY THEFT PREVENTION FOR SENIORS:

One of my elderly clients and my very own parents were taken in by the “Grandson in Canada” phone scam.

Here’s what happens:

A young man calls you up who sure does sound like your grandson. It sure does sound like your grandson. You are happy to hear from him!  He says he’s in Canada and his car has broken down. He can’t or doesn’t want to ask his parents for help so he’s asking you. He’ll be able to get his car fixed if you wire him $2,000 from your local Walmart store to a Walmart store in Canada near the repair shop. After your “grandson” gets the money, he calls back and tells you that the repair shop found something else wrong and he needs more money. This is how my father sent $4,000 to a scammer in Canada pretending to be my nephew.

My client received a “grandson in Canada” phone scam call with a different but very believable scenario and, after 3 phone call requests, wired over $7,000 to a scammer in Canada.

My father and my client felt so stupid and guilty when they finally figured out that they had been fooled and their money so easily stolen by a criminal pretending to be their grandson. They were afraid to tell anyone about what they had done.

My client had to close her bank account. The scammer sold her phone number and address to other scammers who started sending fake insurance packets asking her to verify her social security number and other personal data. The “insurance company” letter head looked real. But when I looked up the company address on-line, there was no such street in that city. She started receiving phone calls from “companies” also wanting to “verify” her personal information. Changing her phone number was the only way to stop the endless phone calls!

These criminals can find out a lot about the real grandson or other family member by searching for them on-line. Grandchildren may have web pages, Facebook pages, belong to an organization, attend college or have a professional web site or affiliation that provides much more than their name and address. They post photos of themselves and communicate with their friends and family on-line. With all that personal information available to anyone, anywhere, with a computer, it’s easy to sound like someone you know. The criminal that called my father even knew my nephew’s nickname.

 

FOR INFORMATION ON SCAMS DIRECTED AT SENIORS & HOW TO STAY SAFE:

AARP also provides information scams directed at seniors: http://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/

The Better Business Bureau of Virginia has a “Scam Source” site for consumers:

 http://www.bbb.org/richmond/get-consumer-help/scam-source/

You can also call the Better Business Bureau’s “Senior Fraud Service” at: (804) 780-2222

The FBI: http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud/seniors

The National Association of Triads - Communities Working to Keep Older Adults Safe:

http://www.nationaltriad.org/