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Scammers target elderly residents

By JR Ortega
June 21, 2013 at 1:21 a.m.


TIPS FOR SENIORS ON SCAMMING

• Never use a money transfer service to send money to someone you have not met in person.

• Never spend money for an emergency situation without verifying that it’s a real emergency; ignore the caller’s plea not to tell others; confirm through other friends and family.

• Never send funds received by check until it officially clears in your account, which can take several days or more.

SOURCE: Tracy Bracy, Better Business Bureau

The phone call comes in: Your computer is about to crash, and if you want to fix it, you better pay up.

That’s the phone call Joe Kovar, 80, and a friend of his received recently.

It’s the latest scam targeting elderly people, said Tracy Bracy, regional director for the Better Business Bureau for Corpus Christi and Victoria.

An unsolicited call from a variety of phone numbers will contact a homeowner, saying their computer is about to crash. The caller then asks for credit card information or asks that they go to Western Union to wire money so it can be fixed, Bracy said.

“This is a very common scam,” she said.

Kovar was with a friend when the call came in. His friend sent the money and then tried to undo what was done, but it was too late.

Days later, Kovar received a similar call. He called the man on the phone – who Kovar said had a thick, Middle Eastern accent – a scam artist, and the man hung up.

Kovar said he interacts with many senior citizens. It’s easy for people to be compelled by what they hear on the phone.

“I’ve always been kind of leery of technology now,” he said. Kovar has heard other horror stories, he said, of friends being called and told someone in their family was involved in a wreck and they need money wired.

Scam artists are known for being as realistic as possible, Bracy said, going as far as even knowing the names of some of your family members. They will use anything to make the scam as realistic as possible.

With computer scams, the target audience tends to be older, Bracy added.

“They are a very susceptible group,” Bracy said. “It’s because they don’t know how to use computers usually, and they are more likely to be home.”

The Better Business Bureau is aware of the scam Kovar and his friend experienced, and there are many others that are almost similar to it.

The best thing, Bracy said, is to be wary of any phone calls asking to help you for something, especially if it is unsolicited.

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