It seems like every other week there are reports from the Hingham police or Massachusetts attorney general about telephone scams targeting seniors. While it is impossible to keep track of all of the variations, there are some themes that should make you suspicious. These warning signs can also be applied to email scams.
- Beware of a company that calls you and then asks for your date of birth, address or social security number before they can give you “important information.” If they claim to be calling from a bank or financial institution that you do business with, hang up and call them back using a telephone number from a statement or card that you have, not a number they have given you.
- Beware of a caller from a company trying to make you give credit card information over the phone or asking for a Personal Identification Number (PIN.)
- Beware of calls from people claiming to be relatives who are in trouble and need to you wire money. They may claim to be a grandchild and beg you not to tell their parents.
- Beware of callers who are trying to rush you and claiming that bad consequences will arise from any delay.
If you do receive calls like this you should contact the police in your town to report it. If you worry that a legitimate company may need information or payment from you, call them on your own. And if someone claiming to be a relative needs you to wire money due to some out-of-country emergency, always double check with someone else in the family.
This link to the Massachusetts Attorney General has more information on the various kinds of scams and ways to avoid them: Scams and Identity Theft.