Scams increase during holidays

Staff writer

Norma Kline thought it was unusual when a friend called asking for advice on whether to send money to a man saying her computer would blow up in 48 hours unless she sent him $140.

“I don’t know what made her stop and call me, as she was convinced it was something she needed to do,” Kline said. “She is older and needs help navigating life, especially the financial stuff, so I suppose she thought she should ask me before driving to Vogt’s Supermarket in Hillsboro to send a $140 wire transfer to the scam artists.”

Kline said the scammers wanted a credit card number, but since her friend did not have one they settled on a money transfer and gave her a number to call him at after the money was wired.

Kline advised her friend to not wire the money, but her friend had already given the scammers access to her computer, which they infected with a virus.

“Don not give anyone access to your computer,” Kline said in a Facebook status detailing about the event.

Marion resident Peggi Wilson also told of a scam that duped her mother-in-law, who has Alzheimer’s, out of money and tampered with her Medicare and health care plans.

The National Council on Aging said scams are more popular around major holidays. People get desperate and look for anyway to make a quick buck.

NCOA said top scams against the elderly include scams relating to health care and insurance and Medicare, counterfeit prescription drugs, funeral and cemetery funds, fraudulent anti-aging products, Internet, lottery or sweepstakes, and investment schemes. The site says the easiest way to see through a potential scam is to be vigilant.

Most scams include a sense of urgency like in Kline’s friend’s situation, “if you don’t wire the money your computer will blow.”

Scammers will also ask for personal information such as bank account or credit card numbers or social security numbers.

Gayla Ratzlaff, coordinator for Marion County Department on Aging, said she tells people to never give out important numbers to people calling or selling door to door.

She said she has received multiple calls about Marion County residents being scammed by someone calling about new Medicare cards. The scammers ask residents for their Medicare and Social Security number.

“Medicare and Social Security never contact customers over the phone,” she said. “They always send mail, so if someone calls claiming to be from them it’s almost always a fraudulent call.”

If people think they have been scammed they need to contact their bank immediately, Ratzlaff said.

“Contact Medicare and have someone monitor your account to make sure there’s no fraudulent activity,” she said. “If you think your identity has been stolen contact your creditors to make sure a loan is not being taken out in your name. If people are going door to door, a simple call to the police can tell if it’s a scam. In most towns a permit is required for people going door to door.”

Ratzlaff said once people have been scammed they are more susceptible to future scams.

“If you don’t know whose calling don’t talk to them, because if you do they will keep calling,” she said. “If someone you don’t know comes to your door then don’t answer.”

 

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