Crime Stoppers of Augusta want seniors to be aware of scams

The Augusta Crime Stoppers, Inc. hosted a special program aimed at senior citizens this week at the Augusta Senior Center.  Captain Bruce Relph, Commander of Special Services, Augusta Department of Safety,  was the special guest speaker.
Relph explained that each day more seniors are targeted by scams.  Seniors can be more vulnerable; some seniors are extremely trusting; older people often believe the pitches they hear; seniors have trouble spotting fraud; seniors find it difficult to end unwanted telemarketing calls; seniors are often reluctant to seek advice about financial matters.
“The scammers target seniors  because they think seniors have money.  A lot of these crimes go unreported because the victims are too embarrassed,” Relph continued, “Many of the scammers are outside of the U.S., which makes it problematic.  There is no jurisdiction, it’s tough to investigate, and you can’t prosecute.”
“It’s low risk for the criminals, but devastating to the victims.  They won’t get their money back.”
Relph outlined some common scams:
* Medicare or healthcare related
“They may tell you that they’re selling supplemental coverage or something else, but they want your name, date of birth, social security number and they will open accounts with your information.  It turns into a major hassle and a huge crime that can drag on for years.
* Pigeon Drop
“That’s when someone has money and wants to share with you, but you need to give them good faith money.  A lot of these go unreported.”
* IRS calls demanding payment
“The IRS will never call you.  They will contact you by mail.  Do not give anyone your social security number.”
*Investment scams
“Seniors are prime targets. Pick and choose your investments carefully and speak to someone you know and trust.”
*Roofing/paving scams
“Don’t pay up front and use reliable, trusted companies.  Ask friends for advice and references.”
Relph stressed the importance of common sense and being aware of any “red flags.”
The Better Business Bureau or the Attorney General’s office has information on scammers and can confirm any complaints made against a business.
Relph advised that its wiser to pay on line with a credit card and not a debit card.  In case of fraud or a stolen card, it’s easier and quicker to cancel a credit card.
“I don’t want to you be paranoid, but you need to be aware of what’s going on and how creative the scammers can be.”

To obtain more information on scams or to file a complaint, contact the Kansas Attorney General at 1-888-428-8436 or; Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-432-2310; Crime Stoppers of Augusta, Inc. at 316-775-0055.