U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal spoke to the residents, families and the Litchfield community about how to protect yourself from the most common scams that are targeted towards seniors during Brandywine’s Consumer University.
Senator Blumenthal has been working diligently on developing federal legislation that will introduce tougher penalties for scammers who target older consumers. The bill will also promote interagency coordination around elder abuse cases—including the improvement of investigation and prosecution—and enhancement of survivor assistance and data collection.
“I want to talk to you about some of the ways that you can protect yourself. You’ve heard the old saying that ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,’ and very often protecting yourself can save you from financial fraud and abuse, and some of the scams and con artists that are out there seeking to take advantage of you,” said Blumenthal. “The fact is that abuse of senior citizens is a major business. It’s a big business; it’s a growing business… that’s where the money is, It’s with senior citizens that have saved all their lives, and now they have some money. And the con artists think that they are easy prey.”
Financial fraud and abuse scams are among the top most common scams in the country today. The” IRS Scam” specifically targets seniors 65+. Callers disguise themselves as advocates stating that the IRS is going to sue you and put a lien on your property. They instruct callers to contact a specific number and area code to call and dispute this issue. Once you call they then ask for your social security number and personal info, a term they coin as “the keys to the kingdom,” giving them enough information to steal your identity.
Many scams that gather info are phishing. Much of this crime goes unreported because victims are often embarrassed to admit that someone caught them in their trap. Senator Blumenthal encouraged attendees to never feel embarrassed if something of this nature happens to them; it happens to hundreds Americans every day. If you report the crime, in the long run you are saving thousands of others from getting taken advantage of from the same scam.
The most common scams on the rise are those of “Tragedy and Charity.” People often set up fake charitable organizations claiming they are in a time of tragedy, and need your help. The Senator encourages citizens to continue to be generous to nationally recognized or locally known organizations that you have given to in the past. Be cautious to anything that may seem fraudulent and be aware of the warning signs. When in a time of doubt, always research the organization prior to providing donations of significant monetary value.
Attendees expressed their concerns about the ineffectiveness of the “Do Not Call” registry and automated calls. Senator Blumenthal did address both, and is actively supporting legislation to ban all “robo-calls” as they fall into the scam category as well.
Residents with concerns about scam activity can contact Blumenthal on his website. The site has a list of issues and resources ranging from elder abuse to consumer protection as well as sources for assistance in business, lending and banking practices and Social Security.