Reno Gazette-Journal Sunday, January 30th, 2022
You received an email confirming your “Fifty Dollar Pfizer Treatment Survey Reward.” Should you open it? Should you click on the “Start Survey Now” button? Opening the email probably won’t cause you harm. Clicking the link surely could.
But how do you spot a legitimate offer versus a potential phishing expedition? What is phishing anyway? What about Caller ID spoofing? Or social media account cloning? How can you guard against the “grandparents scam”?
How seniors can protect themselves from these and many other scams will be addressed by expert panelists at “The Truth about the Latest Scams” seminar scheduled for February 10.
“In a world where we find ourselves more connected by technology, and as information is increasingly more easily accessible to scammers, we are all far more susceptible to scams than ever before,” said Brett Junell, seminar co-moderator of the educational seminar series designed to help older adults make informed decisions.
“While the Truth Series has addressed the topic of scams in the past, we continue to hear from seminar attendees and clients alike who have been victims of both the latest scams as well as some of the older scams that have become even more believable,” Junell said.
“Scammers are getting more sophisticated,” he said. “Several, very educated and smart attendees, have told us privately that they have lost thousands to scams.”
One recurring scam is the “grandparents scam,” and many well-meaning older adults have fallen victim to it. How does the scam work?
The person receives a phone call initiated with a phrase like, “Hi Grandma/Grandpa! Do you know who this is?” or something similar. If the grandparent responds with a name, the con artist assumes the name is a grandchild’s and uses it to pose as the grandchild.
The “grandchild” describes some type of urgent trouble, often in a foreign country, and begs the grandparent to immediately wire money through Western Union or MoneyGram to pay for medical treatment, bail money, auto repair, or a ticket home. By claiming that they are embarrassed or there is no time to talk to others, the con artist tries to dissuade the grandparent from contacting the grandchild’s parents or friends.
Some con artists may investigate the identity of the grandchild before the initial phone call or pretend to be a third party, such as a government official or a bail bondsman. The involvement of a family member, an immediate need for money, and a request for secrecy are the hallmarks of this scam.
“Creating a sense of urgency preys upon the older adult’s sense of familial responsibility,” Junell said. “And, it often leads to mistakes that can cost thousands of dollars.”
At this seminar, the panel of local experts will update attendees on the newest scams and more importantly how to determine what is legitimate, what is likely a scam, and how to avoid becoming a victim of the latest scams.
Panelists will include representatives of the Nevada Attorney General’s office, the Better Business Bureau and the Reno Police Department.
The Better Business Bureau offers this caution to seniors: “Guard your government-issued numbers. Never offer your Medicare ID number, Social Security number, health plan information, or banking information to anyone you don’t know or trust. Don’t post your vaccine card on social media.”
The Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection alerts Nevadans about the latest scams brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic:
– Stimulus Checks/Emergency Funding: Scammers attempt to steal personal information or money by posing as government entities distributing stimulus checks or emergency funding.
– At-home Testing Kits: Scammers go door-to-door offering at home COVID-19 testing or antibody kits.
– Vaccination Cards: Fraudulent vaccination cards are being created and sold. These cards are used to falsely state that an individual has been vaccinated.
– Contact-Tracing Scams: Scammers posing as employees of government health departments are contacting consumers to steal their personal information under the guise of a COVID-19 contact-tracing call or text.
– CDC Imposter Scams: The scammer poses as Centers for Disease Control (CDC) employee and ask for “donations.”
Most legitimate vendors and government agencies will never:
– Call you directly even if your balance is past due.
– Ask for payment over the phone.
– Demand that you pay a bill with a pre-paid debit card.
– Ask that you meet us somewhere to make a bill payment.
– Tell you that we will come to your house or business to collect payment in cash.
– Ask for your bank information or credit card number over the phone.
Medicare fraud scams are another source of concern for retirees. Medicare beneficiaries should be wary of the following schemes:
– Attempts to “verify your identity.”
– Bogus offers for “free medical supplies.”
– False claims that you’re entitled to a “refund.”
These are just some of the many scams seniors need to be aware of.
Attend the “The Truth about the Latest Scams” on February 10 to learn how to identify and stop the most prominent scams so you can protect yourself and your loved ones from financial fraud.
The monthly seminars are held from
10-11:30 a.m. at the RSAR Building at 5650 Riggins Court, Reno (near Meadowood Mall).
The seminars are free for seniors and their guests. Pre-registration is required because seating is limited.
Seat reservations can be made online
at www.RetiredLivingTruthSeries.com or by calling (775) 432-6398.