Categorized | Opinion

Scam Alerts for the Elderly

By David Peel

As an attorney, I hear stories of scams and abuses everyday, but the ones that make me angrier are those focused against our elderly.  Our aged population is targeted as they tend to be more trusting and usually won’t hang up on people. They also underreport fraud due to embarrassment, or fear that family will not trust them to handle their affairs.

Please share these tips with anyone who can benefit:

1. This is a new one: Never respond to an official-looking letter saying that you need to pay $50-90 dollars for a copy of your property deed.  You do not need a copy anyway, but official-looking letters have been sent out in Tennessee with “compliance deadlines.”  Trash them. (If you want a copy, you can print for free online or the Register’s office will provide one for a very nominal fee).

2. An email is sent saying that a loved on was on a trip, and needs money. Verify with others before responding.

3. Spring is the time of year when people will sometimes walk up and offer to patch your driveway, repair your roof, trim trees, or other things that you did not request.  Beware.

4. Phones in your home are there for your convenience, not the caller’s! Put yourself on the Tennessee Do Not Call Program: Call 1-877-TRA-7030 from your home phone. The National Do-Not-Call Registry is 1-888-382-1222.

5. Never give out personal information on the phone, especially to those who call you asking for “verification” of your bank account or social security number. According to the FBI, these are common lines to watch out for: “You must act now, or the offer won’t be good.” “You’ve won a free gift, vacation, or prize, but you have to pay for postage and handling.” “You do not need to speak to anyone about this.” They do not want you asking your family, lawyer, accountant, local Better Business Bureau, or consumer protection agency.

6. We all see commercials for Reverse Mortgages, but did you know that about 1 in 10 winds up in default? If that occurs, they can foreclose on your home, leaving your homeless. Use extreme caution.

7. Identity theft.  A “credit card company” calls and gives the last four digits of the card and says there was a fraudulent purchase. The caller offers to fix it if he just has the three- or four-digit verification code on the back of the credit card. Of you hear, “You must send money, give a credit card or bank account number, or have a check picked up by courier.” Just hang up.

8. You have not won the Canadian Lottery or the Jamaican Sweepstakes! No one in Africa has millions to get out of the country. “If it sounds to good to be true, it usually is.”

How, instead, should we treat our elderly? As Moses advised, “Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19:32(NIV).

Peel seeks justice for those injured in car accidents, work place incidents, medical malpractice, and nursing homes. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Peel may be reached through PeelLawFirm.com wherein other articles may be accessed.

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