(Executive Director’s Scam Alert August 2019)
The caller identified himself as working for “card member services”, representing all of the major credit card companies. He said he could drop my interest rate on my credits cards by 1/3. He asked me to confirm my full name and home address (he had my correct address) and that I had a Visa or MasterCard. He claimed to have ‘pulled up’ my accounts and then wanted me to confirm the entire card number for one of my credit card accounts so he could verify it was really me.
Instead of giving him a credit card number, I asked him to give me the last 4 numbers of any of my accounts that he had ‘pulled up’. Things got interesting after that. We went back and forth, each demanding that the other verify the information. I explained that I am an attorney who works for a non-profit legal services organization and that I research financial scams targeting seniors. The caller was not concerned. He forcefully informed me that unless I gave him a credit card number, he would not be able to transfer me to the accounts manager who would be the one to lower my interest rate. After the call ended, I received several (unanswered) calls from similar numbers.
Don’t fall for this one! This scam has been around for a long time because it is successful in getting credit card numbers and other personal information, then stealing identities and making unauthorized credit card purchases. Instead, call your credit company and ask for an interest rate reduction yourself. It may or may not be successful, but you won’t be putting your financial future at risk.
From our Executive Director’s Desk
Like many of you, our blog readers, I am a senior. And as a senior, I get calls from strangers trying to sell me things.
Last week, I received a call from yet another stranger. Because I research scams targeting seniors, I didn’t hang up.
The caller told me he was sure I could use a back brace and assured me it was absolutely free – no cost to me. All he needed was my full name, date of birth, address for shipping and Medicare number. When I refused to give out my personal information or Medicare number, he hung up.
This attempt at Medicare fraud was unsuccessful because I am aware of how it works. If you get a call like this, never give out any personal information or your Medicare number. Your personal information can be sold to other scammers, and you may be denied needed durable medical equipment in the future by Medicare.
Have a question about a call you received or a letter that came in the mail?
Call Elder Law & Advocacy
San Diego County: 858-565-1392
Imperial County: 760-3530223
Our 88 year old client was approached by 3 door – to – door salespeople about applying a special, “environmentally friendly” exterior paint to her home. Our client explained that she had just had her home painted but they wouldn’t leave until she agreed to the work. Feeling pressured, she signed some papers to get these 3 strangers out of her home.
The men told her PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) financing would take care of it and help her out. The contract price was over $28,000, adding $2,800 to her property tax bill for 20 years.
Could she afford it? No! Did she understand how PACE financing works? No!
Maybe it could happen to you. To protect yourself, don’t open the door to people who just show up.
Talk “through the door” before opening it because once you let them in, it can be very hard to get them out.
If you are a senior and have questions about a home improvement contract, call us for free legal assistance. Our attorneys will review your documents.
SAN DIEGO COUNTY: 858-565-1392
IMPERIAL COUNTY: 760-353-0223
Remember, take your time before you sign.
In San Diego and Imperial Counties, sales people are going door-to-door, talking to homeowners about lowering their electric bills. They want to sell products such as solar panels, insulating exterior paint, new windows, artificial turf other products. They are targeting older homeowners who might have lots of equity in their homes.
As part of their sales pitch, these people are lying, telling homeowners there is a “free” government sponsored program, or that there is special financing with great rates and no payments for one year. They sometimes ask the homeowner to “sign” on the sales person’s phone or portable laptop.
In reality, these products are not free and often overpriced. The “special financing” is through the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, which adds the cost of these products onto your property tax bill for years. If you don’t pay the full tax bill, you can face foreclosure.
To be safe, don’t open your door to these sales people and hang up when they call. You need your home so don’t let them take it from you.
Question? Call Elder Law & Advocacy at (858) 565-1392
It seems like a good deal – new paint for your home that will give you huge savings on your electric bill; solar panels which are practically free; replacement windows that are as energy efficient as they are beautiful. Special financing for seniors. Who could pass it up?
If you fall for it, there is a good chance you could end up with a huge increase on your property tax bill. That ‘special financing’ gets put on your county property taxes and has administrative costs, fees and interest. It comes with a big risk if you can’t afford these new assessments on your tax bill. You could have trouble refinancing or selling your home, and can even face foreclosure.
Most salespeople are good at what they do. Our capable, careful clients have been duped by door-to-door sales pitches. If you are asked to initial something or sign a bid, your initials or signature can be used to electronically sign documents you never reviewed, with terms you would never accept.
If you are interested in a home improvement product or service, ask for an estimate and for information on the service and product. Next, call us – there is no cost to you – and we will review the documents with you. San Diego 858-565-1392; Imperial County 767-353-0223
Take your time before you sign and have a safe, scam-free New Year.
The FTC is getting reports about people pretending to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA) who are trying to get your Social Security number and even your money. In one version of the scam, the caller says your Social Security number has been linked to a crime (often, he says it happened in Texas) involving drugs or sending money out of the country illegally. He then says your Social is blocked – but he might ask you for a fee to reactivate it, or to get a new number. And he will ask you to confirm your Social Security number.
In other variations, he says that somebody used your Social Security number to apply for credit cards, and you could lose your benefits. Or he might warn you that your bank account is about to be seized, that you need to withdraw your money, and that he’ll tell you how to keep it safe.
But all of these are scams. Here’s what you need to know:
- The SSA will never (ever) call and ask for your Social Security number. It won’t ask you to pay anything. And it won’t call to threaten your benefits.
- Your caller ID might show the SSA’s real phone number (1-800-772-1213), but that’s not the real SSA calling. Computers make it easy to show any number on caller ID. You can’t trust what you see there.
- Never give your Social Security number to anyone who contacts you. Don’t confirm the last 4 digits. And don’t give a bank account or credit card number – ever – to anybody who contacts you asking for it.
- Remember that anyone who tells you to wire money, pay with a gift card, or send cash is a scammer. Always. No matter who they say they are.
If you’re worried about a call from someone who claims to be from the Social Security Administration, get off the phone. Then call the realSSA at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). If you’ve spotted a scam, then tell the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.
Link to original article: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2018/12/fake-calls-about-your-ssn
Scammers who target seniors were very active in 2018. Most of these scams have been around for many years. Why? Because they work and the scammers get away with it. Here are some to watch out for in 2019, along with my best tip: HANG UP before they can get to your money!
Your phone rings…
You won the lottery!
HANG UP! It’s a SCAM!
Your grandchild is in trouble and needs you to wire money or get a gift card.
HANG UP! It’s a SCAM!
You qualify for free home improvements-solar, roof, windows, ‘cool wall’ paint.
HANG UP! It’s a SCAM!
The IRS calls to say you owe back taxes.
HANG UP! It’s a SCAM!
Medicare is calling because you need to pay for a new Medicare card.
HANG UP! It’s a SCAM!
If you have a question about a call, a letter, or a contract, contract Elder Law & Advocacy before you open your wallet. An attorney will advise you free of charge. For an appointment call 858-565-1392 in San Diego County or 760-353-0223 in Imperial County.
Best wishes for a safe and happy 2019!