Every year, people are victimized by unscrupulous phone scammers, sometimes losing thousands of dollars in the process. I’d just like to remind everyone of some of the things you can do to help protect yourself and your loved from from becoming the next victim.
Quite often, scammers who target seniors will immediately start talking fast, usually about a son or daughter who is in trouble or hurt and needs money immediately to save them. These are called ‘Family Emergency Scams’. They are counting on YOU to provide them with the information they need to keep the scam going, such as where your kids are, their names, where they work etc.
If you receive such a call, here are some things you can do to ensure the call is not a scammer:
- Never offer up any information about the person they are calling about (names, addresses, worplaces etc.)
- Write everything down. If they say your son is ‘hurt and in the hospital’ get the hospital name, if your son is ‘in police custody’ get the name of the police station where they are being held, etc. When questioned on specifics many scammers will simply hang up.
- Follow up BEFORE sending any money to anyone. Call family members to confirm if there is trouble, call the hospital your relative is supposed to be in, call the police to confirm if an accident has really occurred. Be sure to only call VERIFIED phone numbers that you either know are correct (such as a family members home) or a number that you can verify by calling directory assistance. For example, do not call a police station by dialing a number the caller gives you.
- If the caller claims to be a family, member verify their identity by asking them questions only your actual relative could answer.
- If the caller asks you to WIRE money or send cash via a service like Western Union be wary!
- If the caller pressures you to keep it a secret and keeps implying the money must be sent right away be wary!
This report from the OPP is just the latest example of scammers targeting seniors in our community:
TOWNSHIP OF CENTRE WELLINGTON – On December 20, 2017 OPP were contacted by a victim of a fraud that had occurred on December 19, 2017.
The victim advised OPP she had received a call from a male pretending to be a family member. The male advised he had been in a car accident. At this point a second male came on the line advising that he was the lawyer for the injured party and advised they required a sum of money to pay a fine. The victim wired a sum of money to the suspect. The victim then learned that this was a scam.
If you think you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud, please contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or report online at http://www.antifraudcentre.ca