Unwanted calls are annoying. They can feel like a constant interruption — and many are from scammers. Unfortunately, technology makes it easy for scammers to make millions of calls a day. So this week, as part of Older Americans Month, we’re talking about how to block unwanted calls — for yourself, and for your friends and family. To get started, check out this video:
Some of the most common unwanted calls the FTC sees currently include pretend Social Security Administration, Medicare, and IRS calls, fake Amazon or Apple Computer support calls, and fake auto warranty and credit card calls.
But no matter what type of unwanted calls you get (and everyone is getting them) your best defense is a good offense. Here are three universal truths to live by:
- Don’t trust your caller ID
- Hang up on robocalls
- Use call blocking
Visit FTC.gov/calls to learn to block calls on your cell phone and home phone.
The FTC continues to go after the companies and scammers behind these calls, so please report unwanted calls at donotcall.gov. If you’ve lost money to a scam call, tell us at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Your reports help us take action against scammers and illegal robocallers — just like we did in Operation Call It Quits. In this law enforcement sweep, the FTC and its state and federal partners brought 94 actions against illegal robocallers. But there’s more: we also take the phone numbers you report and release them publicly each business day. That helps phone carriers and other partners that are working on call-blocking and call-labeling solutions.
So share these videos and this call blocking news with your friends and family. Sharing will help protect someone you care about from a scam — and it’ll help them get fewer unwanted calls, too! Blog Topics: Privacy, Identity & Online Security, Limiting Unwanted Calls & EmailsScam Tags: Avoiding Scams
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The California Department of Real Estate recently released the updated version of “California Tenants: A Guide to Residential Tenants’ and Landlords’ Rights and Responsibilities.” The popular guide was last published by the California Department of Consumer Affairs in 2012 but became somewhat obsolete in the last few years.
Numerous substantive changes to landlord-tenant law are included in the new version of “California Tenants.” The 2019 Tenant Protection Act (known as AB 1482) provides protections for certain long-term tenants by limiting rent increases and requiring landlords to state a cause for termination in certain cases (and sometimes even paying relocation benefits).
The publication also alerts consumers of emergency legislation due to the Covid-19 pandemic. On August 31, 2020, the California legislature passed the “Tenant, Homeowner, and Small Landlord Relief and Stabilization Act of 2020 (known as AB 3088),” which included the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020. Tenants who experience financial distress due to the pandemic (e.g. income loss) may have eviction protections under the Tenant Relief Act or a nationwide order issued on September 4, 2020 by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
In addition to the major updates listed above, other parts of California landlord-tenant law have changed as well. The California Tenants booklet is currently available online, and it is expected to be available in print later this year.
To review the revised California Tenants guide, visit the Dept. of Real Estate’s Housing is Key website at https://landlordtenant.dre.ca.gov/resources/guidebook/index.html
If you are a landlord or tenant (aged 60+) who needs help navigating the complex California landlord-tenant laws, please contact our office for a review of your specific situation.
by Carol Kando-Pineda
Counsel, FTC, Division of Consumer & Business Education
You may have seen reports of the fire that destroyed the USS Bonhomme Richard. Dozens of sailors fled the burning ship and lost all their possessions. When a distressing event like this happens, many folks look for ways to help. But you also want to make sure your money gets to the people you want to help. In this case, scammers are making that more difficult. Officials at Naval Base Coronado have sounded the alarm about fake crowdfunding pages trying to take advantage of the crisis.
Today is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. We urge people of all ages to take note of the ongoing scams affecting seniors in our communities. Typical scams targeting older Americans thrive on financial abuse and exploitation. Scams are illegal and a form of elder abuse.
Last week, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra warned residents to be cautious about scammers pretending to be coronavirus contact tracers. As more public health orders relax, counties are hiring contract tracers to track and identify outbreaks of coronavirus. There have already been numerous reports of scammers posing as contract tracers and asking for private information, such as Medicare number, Social Security number or bank account information. Contract tracers will never ask for such personal information, or banking information.
Attorney General Becerra urges residents to report such fraud to his office immediately. The California Senior Medicare Patrol also has a toll-free hotline to report scams involving private health information: 1-855-613-7080.
The IRS reported recent scams related to fake charities and phishing schemes by email, letter, text message, and internet links. 
The Federal Trade Commission reports indicate California residents age 60 and above have already reported over 4,500 scams related to Covid-19 and stimulus payments. The fraud victims in the cases lost a total of over $11.8 million.
Locally, the San Diego community saw recent variations of the popular grandparent scam.  Two residents were convinced their grandchild or family member was in legal trouble. A scammer posed as an attorney and sent someone to pick up cash from the scam victim (with promises to resolve the issue for the grandchild).
Please contact our office for legal assistance and guidance on reporting scams and protecting yourself in the future. Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions, help spread awareness about scams, and prevent further instances of elder abuse in the community.
This information is provided as a result of a generous grant from the Sahm Family Foundation.
In an effort to stop the spread of a dangerous respiratory illness called Covid-19 (coronavirus), most Californians have been staying at home more than normal in recent weeks. The coronavirus is known to be more serious in older adults, and those with underlying health issues. As a result of the pandemic, older adults have been advised to only leave their home for essential needs. Unfortunately, spending so much time at home allows seniors to be more exposed to scams.
News and information continues to change rapidly, even though most are stuck at home. While it can be difficult to keep up, it is still critical for seniors to be aware of scams.
Watch out for individuals or businesses who promise to help get stimulus money more quickly, or sell cures or medication to prevent or treat the virus. Scammers are also using old tricks like pretending to be a grandkid in trouble, or saying your Social Security is being terminated. Be cautious of anyone who requests personal information, and stay alert.
Here are a few reminders on how to keep your distance from scams:
D – Don’t let your guard down. Don’t be afraid to hang up or close the door!
I – Interact regularly with friends and family to stay in the loop.
S – Seek help from trusted sources if you are not sure what to do.
T – Take a deep breath. Anxiety and panic do not help make good decisions.
A – Always verify information, and ask for details in writing.
N – Note who is contacting you, and have a response ready.
C – Consider reporting scams to the FTC, Attorney General, police, etc.
E – Educate yourself and your neighbors, so they will stay safe too.
Stay tuned to our blog for future scam updates. Our attorneys are working remotely, and can offer legal advice to residents of San Diego and Imperial County free of charge. Let us know what scams you are seeing in your neighborhood, and stay well!
Here are a few helpful links for those who would like to read more:
Official California Covid-19 Coronavirus Response Page: https://covid19.ca.gov/
County of San Diego – Coronavirus Updates & Resources: https://www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/sdc/hhsa/programs/phs/community_epidemiology/dc/2019-nCoV.html
California Dept. of Aging Resource List: https://www.aging.ca.gov/covid19/
SDGE Utility Scam Assistance: https://www.sdge.com/residential/customer-service/assistance-help/scams
Social Security Administration Press Releases: https://www.ssa.gov/news/press/releases/
Federal Trade Commission- Scam Alerts: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts
2020 Census Information: https://2020census.gov/en.html
California Attorney General – Protecting Consumers: https://oag.ca.gov/consumers
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – Consumer Info Blog: https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/blog/?categories=info-for-consumers
I know, 60-year-olds. You’re not old. In fact, we’ve found that, when people think “old,” they think of someone about 10 years older than they are right now. But, because we’ve been warned about the effects of the Coronavirus on people 60+, listen up. Because scammers follow the headlines and know you might have this on your mind.
Right now, scammers are scuttling out of their dark corners to offer false hope (Home test kits! A cure!) and use fear (Your Social Security number is about to be revoked! Your loved one is in trouble!) – all to get your money or information. (None of those things are real, by the way.) They’re asking for your bank routing number to “help” you get your relief money – which is not how you’ll get it, by the way. They’re sending fake emails that look real, but those fake CDC or World Health Organization emails are trying to steal your personal information – or, if you click a link, put malware on your computer, tablet, or phone. Scammers are calling (and calling…and calling…), using illegal robocalls to pitch you the latest scammy thing. They’re texting, and they’re all over social media.
So, while you’re washing your hands and working to stay safe, here are a few ways you can help protect yourself – and those you love – from scammers.
- Don’t be rushed. Whatever the call, email, text, or social media post is about, remember that scammers try to rush you. Legit people don’t.
- Check it out. Before you act on something or share it – stop. Do some research. Do the facts back up the story?
- Pass it on. If you get offered something great, or you’re worried about something alarming: talk to someone you trust before you act. What do they think?
- Keep in touch with the FTC. Sign up for Consumer Alerts to help spot scams: ftc.gov/subscribe. And watch for the latest at ftc.gov/coronavirus.
- Report scams to the FTC. Go to ftc.gov/complaint. Your report can help us shut the scammers down.
Want to help even more? Pass this post on. Tell a friend. And hey, let’s be careful out there.
*This information was provided by the Federal Trade Commission