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Scams that Take Aim at Seniors
The telephone and mail are still the best way for a scammer to reach Ohioans. Con artists will change the type of scam, but what these criminals are after is always the same, your money or identity. Here are some scams you should beware of:
- Grandparent scam. Telephone call from a con artist posing as your grandchild or family member in trouble and asks you to wire money, use pre-paid call or other method of getting cash out of you. DO NOT SEND MONEY it is a scam. Call a family member to verify if someone is in trouble.
- Sweepstakes/Foreign Lotteries. Telephone call or mailing telling you won money for being a shopper at local store, good taxpayer, or it was a lottery winning. The catch, you have to pay to collect any winnings. DO NOT SEND MONEY it is a scam. Legitimate sweepstakes are free and require NO up-front money. Foreign lotteries are illegal so if you want to win a lottery, go to your local store and buy a ticket.
- Phony Charities. Telephone call or mailing asking for your donation. Before you give, check the charity out to see if registered. Many fraudulent organizations will use similar sounding names or send mailing making it appear you agreed to a donation amount.
- Free Meal Solicitations. Receive a mailing telling you stop by for a free meal, that’s great but remember it is to get you there to buy their product or service, it is a sales pitch. DO NOT FEEL OBLIGATED TO BUY just because you ate. Collect the information and tell them you will research before agreeing to any purchase, a free lunch or dinner is not the place to make financial decisions.
- Fake Debt Collectors. Telephone call from a phony debt collector who will use scare tactics such as telling you will be arrest for not paying the debt, your accounts will be frozen or shut off, or they will take your car and other possessions. NEVER provide or confirm any bank or credit account information or other personal information over the telephone unless you initiated the call. Ask the caller for the company name, address and telephone number and you will call them back after researching it. If they refuse, hang up and report it.
- Health Care Scams. Telephone call or mailing telling you about free trial offer services or products that claim to prevent, treat or cure diseases or other health conditions, but are not proven safe and effective for those uses. If not cancelled, will automatically bill you monthly. Other scams have been callers claiming to be from Medicare or Social Security asking to verify your personal information and social security number.
Warning Scam Ahead
If you hear these—or similar—“lines” from a caller or in person, just say “no thank you.”
- “You’ve won big money in a sweepstakes, prize or foreign lottery.”
- “You must send money right away.”
- “You must act now, or the offer won’t be good.”
- “You don’t need to check our company with anyone”—
- “We’ll just put the shipping and handling charges on your credit card.”
- “You cannot afford to miss this high-profit, no-risk offer.”
- “It is guaranteed.”
- “This is (government agency) calling because you are a good citizen and we have money to give you or you owe us money”—
- “We’ve just finished a home improvement job nearby and have material left over so we can do your job for half the price.”
- “Do not tell anyone about this.”
The Department of Consumer Affairs’ mission is to make sure people who live or shop in Cuyahoga County get what they pay for.