Scammers thrive on fear. Why? Fear creates confusion which results in hasty decisions that can prove disastrous. Unfortunately, senior citizens are often the most targeted victims of scams. Merciless scammers capitalize on instilling fear in their victims by warning of threat of financial or legal ruin—and they may offer quick fixes if you ‘simply send them money or personal information.’ Familiarize yourself with the following phrases commonly used by scammers:
“The police are coming to arrest you for a debt.”
-If someone threatens you with arrest for a debt, they are either a) a scammer, or b) an unscrupulous debt collector. You will not be arrested and sent to jail over a consumer debt. It’s simply illogical and untrue. Additionally, some scammers may claim to be ‘tax collectors’ or ‘officials with the IRS’—take note: the IRS will not threaten you with arrest over the phone or via email. You would have received an official statement via mail if you were legitimately faced with a debt problem involving the IRS.
“Your account has been compromised.”
-This is often the start of a phishing scam. Scammers will use this line in a way to quickly put you on edge and tap into your personal information. Typically, scammers will forge your bank’s letterhead to make the effort look more legitimate. If you ever receive a letter, email, or phone call alerting you that your account has been hacked, contact your bank independently and immediately and inquire about your account. Do not respond to the letter, email or phone call that you received—these are part of the scam.
“Pay up if you want your computer or Smartphone back.”
-These types of scams infect your computer with software that maliciously limits access to data via encryption. Typically the scammer will demand a ransom up front for you to regain access to your device—do not oblige them. To protect yourself from such a scam happening, be sure to back up your computer or Smartphone’s data frequently, install updates, and utilize security features.
“I’m in trouble overseas and I need money now.”
-This is likely the most popular scam tactic out there. Scammers typically pose as grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or perhaps even church missionaries. The claims usually center on needing money for urgent medical care. They might even claim that they’ll be thrown in jail if you don’t help them ASAP. Do not take these scams seriously—never send money without talking to friends and/or family first.
The holes in a scammer’s story often become apparent after you talk over the situation with someone you trust. The lawyers at HoganWillig Attorneys at Law can help you make sense of how to act if you are faced with a potential scam. If you have any questions about the above material, or wish to speak to an attorney, please contact HoganWillig at (716) 636-7600. HoganWillig is located at 2410 North Forest Road in Amherst, New York 14068, with additional offices conveniently located in Buffalo, Lancaster, and Lockport.