Senior Citizen Safety
Relentless IRS Scammers
Attempted fraud by telephone is very common and becoming worse every day. Scammers threaten people with lawsuits, liens, and even arrest if they don’t pay an alleged debt. Unfortunately, scamming is highly successful, and this makes some scammers relentless. Many use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to camouflage the number they are actually calling from, making it look as if they are located somewhere they are not. They may even leave a callback number, but if you dial that number you are unwittingly being routed to a boiler room somewhere that is likely not even located anywhere near the identifiable area code.
Law enforcement agencies nationwide are aware of this epidemic, but unfortunately these types of criminals are nearly impossible to find. If you or someone you know ever falls victim to one of these scams, please call your local law enforcement agency to report it. If you live out of state and the number the scammer left with you appears to be a Middletown Township number, you will want to contact your local law enforcement agency to report it. Crimes are always determined to have been committed where the crime actually takes place. If you were defrauded over the phone and you live in Florida, it means the crime took place in Florida regardless of where the criminal happens to be operating from. Your local law enforcement agency will contact other agencies during the course of their investigation if they feel it is warranted.
Here’s an interesting article about how scammers use VoIP to stay hidden in the shadows http://www.pcworld.com/article/126373/article.html;
Here’s another, pertaining specifically to the IRS scam https://www.pindrop.com/irs-phone-scam-live-call_analysis/;
And a site where you can report fraud at the federal level through the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force https://www.stopfraud.gov/report.html.
Stay safe out there!
When you are out
- If you must carry a purse, hold it close to your body. Do not dangle it.
- Never carry a wallet in your back pocket. Put it in an inside jacket pocket or front pants pocket.
- Make sure someone knows when you are going out and when you expect to return.
- Avoid dark, deserted routes even if they are the shortest and most convenient.
- Carry change for emergency telephone and transportation use.
- Whenever possible, travel with friends. Check with your senior citizen center about escort services.
- When using public transportation, sit near the driver.
- Do not overburden yourself with packages and groceries that obstruct your view and make it hard to react.
- Have your car or house key in hand as you approach your vehicle or home.
- Carry a whistle or Freon horn to use if you need to summon help. In some areas, community groups offer free alarms for seniors.
- When you drive, keep doors locked and windows up. Park in well-lit, busy areas. If you have car trouble, be wary of strangers who offer help. Stay in your car and ask them to call a service truck or the police. Only roll the window down a crack and keep the doors locked. Put the hood up on the engine to signal that you are having trouble.
- If a friend or taxi takes you home, ask the driver to wait until you are safely inside.
- When walking, act calm, confident, and know where you are going. Trust your instincts if you feel uncomfortable in a place or situation, leave.
When you are at home
- Use deadbolt locks on all exterior doors. Keep your doors locked at all times, even when you are inside.
- Protect windows and sliding glass doors with good locks or other security devices.
- Make your home appear occupied when you go out by using a timer to turn on lights and a radio or television.
- Never let repair or sales people into your home without checking their identification. Call the company to verify their identity if you are not sure.
- Install a viewer in your door and use it.
- If you live alone, do not advertise it. Use only your first and middle initials in telephone books, directories, and apartment mail boxes.
- Get to know your neighbors, and keep their telephone numbers handy for emergencies.
- Work out a buddy system with a friend to check on each other daily.
- Engrave your valuables with your driver's license number and state. Check with local senior citizen centers for available services.
- Keep bonds, stock certificates, seldom worn jewelry, stamp and coin collections in a safe deposit box.
- Do not hide extra house keys under a doormat or in other obvious spots. Leave them with a trusted neighbor.
Protect your money
- If you receive checks in the mail regularly, arrange for them to be sent directly to the bank.
- Do not display large amounts of cash.
- Do not sign a check or contract until you are sure it is for a legitimate reason. Know the details. If in doubt, check with a friend, a lawyer, or the police.
- Never put your purse or wallet on a counter while you examine merchandise in a store. Similarly, do not leave your purse unattended in a shopping cart while shopping.
If you are assaulted
- If the attacker is only after your purse or other valuables, do not resist. Your life and safety are worth more than your possessions.
- Make a conscious effort to get an accurate description of the attacker and call the police.
- Contact your local victim assistance center to help you deal with the trauma many crime victims experience. They can help you learn about counseling, victim compensation laws and how to follow your case's progress.
- Start a crime prevention program in your building or neighborhood. Turn your tragedy into a helping experience for others.
Don't be conned
- According to the American Association of Retired Persons, older citizens are victims of fraudulent schemes far out of proportion to their population number. Keep informed about the latest con schemes in your community by reading the newspaper or by visiting this web site. Be skeptical about any proposal that sounds too good to be true or has to be kept secret. Do not rush into anything. Check it out with friends, lawyers, police the Better Business Bureau, or the state or county consumer affairs department.
- If you are the victim of fraud, call the police immediately. You may be embarrassed because you were tricked, but your information is vital in catching the con artist and preventing others from being victimized.
- Some of the most prevalent con schemes in our area are fraudulent home repair frauds. There are roving groups of "gypsy" repair and service people who take advantage of our seniors who are on fixed incomes. They offer to repave or seal driveways for an exceptional price and then put down used oil instead of the proper materials. They then leave the area and cannot be found when there is a complaint. Only use properly licensed and bonded workers with established reputations.