Date: March 27, 2017 | Category: News
Among the rip-offs facing seniors are the IRS scam and the grandparents scam, Henry County Sheriff Kent Oberkrom told a group at the Clinton Senior Center.
Both of these scams involve imposters phoning unsuspecting consumers and trying to get money or personal information.
More than 40 seniors gathered at the Clinton Senior Center Friday to arm themselves against scammers and fraudsters at a “Scamboree” sponsored by the Missouri SMP (Senior Medicare Patrol).
In the IRS scam, fraudsters call a taxpayer and demand he give a credit card or other form of payment immediately – or face arrest by the local sheriff’s or police department.
“That’s not going to happen,” Oberkrom told the group. “The IRS will not call you, and the IRS will not use local authorities to collect back taxes.”
In what’s known as the grandparent scam, a fraudster will use Facebook or other sources to find out enough about the victims to pose as a friend of a grandchild or other relative. The scammer usually is frantic, telling the victims that the grandchild is in trouble – injured or in jail – and needs money immediately. The goal is to unnerve the victims and prompt them to send money without thinking through the situation.
People who receive such phone calls should hang up and report them, the sheriff said.
“If you get scammed, you should report it. These people can be caught. If you don’t report these things, we cannot alert more people about it,” he said.
The sheriff said authorities work with merchants who sell money-grams or gift cards to be on the lookout for seniors who unknowingly may be sending their money to scammers.
We try to educate, and a lot of these things will get headed off,” Oberkrom said. Oberkrom was one of several speakers at the Scamboree event.
Dave Garnett, Regional President of Hawthorn Bank, encouraged the audience to embrace technology as a more secure method of conducting financial transactions.
Don’t be afraid of these things,” Garnett said of banking via debit cards and the Internet.
Federal regulations require banks to provide more protection to consumers who conduct business on the Internet and using debit cards than to those who use paper checks and cash.
That means it’s easier to get money refunded if someone steals bank your account numbers. “Your paper check actually does have information on it that would be useful to a scammer,” he said, pointing out at that each check has a routing and account number. “If you do use paper checks, don’t use your mailbox at home to send them; use the U.S. Postal Service mailbox so that it’s less likely those are going to be intercepted.”
The Scamboree event, co-sponsored by the senior center and Missouri SMP, is one of sever-al statewide activities to help seniors protect themselves against fraud. The mission of the Mis-souri SMP is to empower and assist Medicare beneficiaries, their families, and caregivers to prevent, detect, and report healthcare fraud, errors, and abuse through outreach, counseling, and education. For more information, call 888-515-6565.