By Theresa Gardner
Scams are on the rise, with seniors being one of the biggest targets. One local advocate says Webster Parish’s elderly are no exception.
“It happens every day,” Johnny Johnson, director of the Webster Parish Council on Aging said. “And unfortunately the scammers prey on our elderly.”
Johnson said that seniors are often targeted because they tend to be more trusting and polite.
“They also usually have savings, own their home and have good credit—all of which make them attractive to scammers,” he said.
Johnson explained that older people may be less likely to report fraud because either they don’t know how, or they might be too ashamed at having been scammed.
“It can happen to anyone, and it does, “ he said. “The important thing is to know what to look out for.”
Johnson said some of the ways to protect yourself are to:
- Be cautious of unsolicited phone calls, mailings and door-to-door services offers.
“Never give or send any personally identifiable information,” Johnson said. “This is how identities are stolen.”
- Make sure all computer anti-virus and security software and malware protections are up to date. Use reputable anti-virus software and firewalls.
- Disconnect from the internet and shut down your device if you see a pop-up message or locked screen. Pop-ups are regularly used by perpetrators to spread malicious software. Enable pop-up blockers to avoid accidentally clicking on a pop-up.
- Be careful what you download. Never open an email attachment from someone you don’t know, and be wary of email attachments forwarded to you.
- Take precautions to protect your identity if a criminal gains access to your device or account. Immediately contact your financial institutions to place protections on your accounts, and monitor your accounts and personal information for suspicious activity.
Johnson said it is important to report suspected fraud as soon as it happens.
“We don’t want anyone to get scammed,” Johnson said, “especially our seniors.”
Johnson said anyone who feels they have been a victim of elder fraud, can call him at 318-371-3056. They can also contact the local FBI field office or submit a tip online. You can also file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Johnson said when reporting a scam — regardless of dollar amount — include as many of the following details as possible:
- Names of the scammer and/or company
- Dates of contact
- Methods of communication
- Phone numbers, email addresses, mailing addresses and websites used by the perpetrator
- Methods of payment
- Where you sent funds, including wire transfers and prepaid cards (provide financial institution names, account names and account numbers)
- Descriptions of your interactions with the scammer and the instructions you were given.
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