If you have questions or concerns about a charity, sweepstakes or possible scam, you can call the MA Attorney General's Office or the Attorney General's Elder Affairs line at 888-243-5337. You may also contact the Executive Office of Elder Affairs at 617-727-7750 or visit the Executive Office of Elder Affairs website.
- Country Bank Scam
- Fallen Officers Fund Scam
- Free Medical Alarm Scam
- Golden Grant Scam
- Interest Rate Scam
- IRS Impersonation Phone Scam
- Make-A-Wish Foundation Scam
- Other Scams
- Pension Advances Scam
Residents are receiving telephone calls saying that their Country Bank accounts have been locked and to unlock their account they have to key in their information. Country Bank has not been calling anyone and they would not call anyone asking for this information.
We've been notified that there is someone calling residents soliciting monies for a Fallen Officers Fund. There is no such legitimate organization. These lecherous people are pulling on the heartstrings of the community in order to line their pockets. They have been calling from 413-239-2393 and trying to use recent tragedies to get rich. If you truly wish to donate to such a cause, call your local Police Department for the names of legitimate organizations.
It appears that a phone offer for a “free medical alarm paid for by her friends and family” should be declined as soon as possible. The “agency” number is 662-304-3858. When the COA director called that number and announced herself and her concern, they hung up. Information courtesy of January Timmons and Rita Wahlstedt at the Sandwich COA. Effective as of May 3, 2013.
Such grants "government grants" or "free money" are available through the following scheme:
- The basic scams are outlined at the Scammer Alert website.
- The elder calls a toll-free number 888-558-8881 and an operator explains the process and then asks for the caller's telephone number.
- The elder is then called back by someone (a confederate or associate or co-illusionist - pick your favorite term) who will then obtain the elder's credit card number. The one-time charge is $340 or maybe more or maybe less.
- The promise is that elders will receive assistance in applying for "free" federal grants from a variety of sources.
A Charlton resident received a call stating they were from the Town of Charlton and that they could help them lower their interest rate. The phone number was a town number. This is a scam. Please let anyone you know who asks you about this know it did not come from the town and to be wary.
A sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, has been making the rounds throughout the country. Callers claim to be Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employees, using fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller Identification (ID) to make it look like the IRS is calling.
What Victims Are Told
Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a gift card or wire transfer. Victims may be threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting. Victims may be told they have a refund due to try to trick them into sharing private information. If the phone isn't answered, the scammers often leave an “urgent” callback request.
The following are other scams against the elderly:
- According to the attorney general's office, it is "never, ever" necessary to purchase anything to enter a legitimate sweepstakes. The attorney general's site also warns consumers not to be swayed by celebrities, stating: "They are paid good money to promote the sweepstakes and their participation does not enhance your chance of winning anything."
- Another common scam involves telling residents they have won, or can win, prizes if they purchase magazines.
- Another elder reported she had been questioned by a female caller about fraudulent activities on either her bank or credit cards. The caller identified charges against the accounts, but said she was unsure of which accounts they were made to. The caller asked the woman to verify her account information over the phone. The caller also told the woman a lawyer was working on the case and the charges could be fixed for a fee.
- The attorney general's office also gives tips for protecting yourself against other scams:
- Be wary of anyone who knocks on your door and offers home improvement services. If you choose to have work done on your home, contact the attorney general's office and use its "Consumer Guide to Home Improvement Contracting" to find a legitimate contractor.
- If you decide to donate to a charity, ask for something in writing for you to review. If they are legitimate, "chances are they have written materials for this purpose."
- Never give out personal information, such as numbers for credit cards, bank accounts or your Social Security number unless you are familiar with the company you are dealing with and you initiated the contact.
- An elderly man's son was told his father had been swindled out of a large amount of Social Security money. The caller told the son, if he cooperated with her, he could recover a portion of the lost money. An 800 number was given to the man. When he later tried to call the number, it was found disconnected.
- Ongoing scam aimed at grandparents and involving requests of money to get their grandchildren out of jail. Download the Scam Alert (PDF).
- Seniors should also be wary of another scam that strikes almost every year, usually in the spring and summer. It involves two or more men who arrive outside your home in a truck claiming to be from the water department. The men tell residents they need to read a meter in the cellar. While the resident is kept busy by one, the other steals items or cases the home for a possible robbery.
Using Pensions to Borrow Cash, but Interest Rates to Borrowers Range Up to 106%. "These types of transactions, called pension advances, are becoming more popular as retirees living on fixed incomes seek new ways to generate cash to make ends meet. Authorities told the Times that these advances are actually carefully disguised loans that require borrowers to sign over all or part of their monthly pension payout. They're offered by companies that operate mostly outside of federal and state banking regulations." The following AARP article also contains a link to the original NYT publication. Article courtesy Emmett Schmarsow, Elder Affairs, May 3, 2013.