Mt. Pleasant seniors get tips to protect against scams
Senior citizens are the fastest growing group that fall prey to scams and fraud, according to the Better Business Bureau, a North American advocacy organization.
At a recent visit to Harmon House Care Center, bureau spokeswoman Caitlin Vancas spoke to residents to teach them about common scams that target senior citizens and to offer tips and suggestions of how to protect themselves.
“Over 50 percent of fraud victims are senior citizens,” Vancas said. “They tend to be more trusting and less likely to suspect a con artist.”
State police at Greensburg spokesman Steve Limani attended the presentation to answer questions.
“Senior citizens have a tendency to listen to slick talkers and unfortunately they often become victims,” Limani said. “All it takes is one transaction on the computer and you're done.”
Every day the mailboxes, telephones and e-mail accounts of older Americans are used to target them in one of the most common forms of fraud – identity theft, Vancas said.
“The residents get mail, phone calls and have access to the internet,” said Shaneen Carson, a Harmon House employee who works in the facility's activities department.
“They are vulnerable. We try to keep tabs and offer advice without invading their privacy,” she said.
Often, senior citizens are not technically savvy and this creates problems with phishing, Vancas said. Phishing is when criminals send out legitimate looking emails asking for verification of account information, which they then use to steal identities or empty bank accounts.
“Never respond to an email that asks for personal information or click on anything in a questionable email,” Vancas said. “A legitimate business will never ask this of you.”
Home improvement scams, phony charities and healthcare and investment scams are also ways in which older Americans are scammed.
“Scammers are master manipulators,” Vancas said. “They encourage emotional, on-the-spot decision making.”
In any questionable situation arises, the bureau advises to think first and not panic. If fraud is committed, the victim is encouraged to contact the bureau with as much information as possible.
“Remember that if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” Vancas said.
Cami DiBattista is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.