Internet scams are on the rise because they can be especially hard to detect.
“I received a telephone call from a woman who said I won $2.5 million dollars,” said Wilmington’s Adelle Miller. It didn’t take Adelle long to realize that caller was a scammer. “All they have to know is she’s 84, she’s entered contests, she must be a sucker.”
Scammers often target the elderly for this very reason, and because they typically have good credit scores and savings, and can sometimes be too trusting. Foster grandparents at the senior center in Wilmington meet once a month to talk about different scams.
“We have them share their own stories of scams they’ve been victims of so they can protect one another. We feel the more they learn about scams aimed at seniors, the safer they’ll be and they won’t become victims themselves,” said program coordinator Beth Wooten.
Lottie Holley shared her story about calling a government housing number she found in the paper. “I gave them my social security number, and the next thing I went to the bank and they drew $135.00 out of my account,” she explained.
This group has steered clear of internet scams because many don’t own computers, but a recent study suggests internet scams are on the rise and will continue to increase. Aging baby boomers rely on computers twice as much as the current generation of older Americans.
Detective Sergeant Craig Bredenbeck said, “Anybody’s information is basically available online. You’ve got people out there that sell people’s information, just pick up a phonebook and you’ve got people’s information, you’ve got a name, an address, and a phone number.”
The bottom line: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
If you think you have been the victim of a scam, you can call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM to verify it. Place a fraud alert on your credit report, and file a police report with local law enforcement.
You can also call the local Elder Abuse Prevention Network at 1-800-218-6575.