Scams That Target Women of a Certain Age

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Let’s talk about scams that target older folks, especially women of a certain age who are drifting towards dementia. There are people out there who just don't care. They'll take your money and not look back.

These are scams I've experienced and scams friends tell me about. Scams come from a variety of directions, from phones and computers to the Internet and email. A scam artist will follow the trail of money.

A few nights ago, I was ready to turn off my computer when I saw “UPS” pop up on my caller ID. I noted that the phone number “UPS” was calling with had a regular area code rather than 800 or 866. Strange. 

I answered the phone and heard a woman’s voice. She asked my name and, two seconds later, told me I had a letter, waiting to be delivered to me. Two seconds! Have you spoken with anycustomer service number without going through at least fifteen minutes of exchanges before speaking with a live person? Even stranger.

She told me I was being sued in a civil suit. I asked, "Who's suing me?" and just like before, she had the next answer ready like a bullet. She told me to call someone else with a case number she provided.

Now I'm really intrigued. A man answered, and I gave him the case number. He told me the lawsuit was from a cell phone contract I had from 2004 to 2006. What was he talking about? It’s 2019. He said they could extend a lawsuit for ten years in Louisiana, which still didn't add up. I could swear I heard him gulp, but he soldiered on. 

He said I would have to pay $3000+ in court, but he could make it disappear if I gave him $500 right then.

This guy was good. He had my Social Security number, my credit reports, my buying information from fifteen years ago. If I had been older and drifting towards dementia, I might have given him the money.

Be sure to ask the name of this “company,” their name, and the phone number. Write it down. While I made small talk, I Googled his company name and saw – in all caps – that his company was “not recommended by the Better Business Bureau.” It was a scam operating out of California.

In my most innocent voice, I said:

"My son takes care of my bills. I'll call him and give him your information. He'll call you." 

I could feel the guy throwing his papers in the air. I hung up the phone, called the police department’s fraud division, and told them everything.

It’s a shame, but to thwart some of these scammers, women need to say that she'll call her son (or any “man in her life”) who handles all her finances. Be sure you have all their information before you tell them this.

There is one phone scammer that calls every six months with the same story. In a generic heavy foreign accent, he tells me that a big computer company has detected a hacker, and my computer is about to crash. No need to worry, since they will fix it for a minimal fee! 

I tell him he's got to get a better scam. That one’s getting old. 

Robocalls are even worse, as they can detect when someone answers and even how long they stay on the line. It may be tempting to tell them off, but do not respond to these calls. Do not call the number they give you. 

We have all had the e-mail scams where it says "I need your help" on the subject line. If you don't know who sent it, hit delete. If you click, it will go on to say someone won an out-of-country lottery and can't get the money transferred to the United States. They will send you the lottery check if you wire a certain amount of money to them. A guaranteed way to make a fortune if you help them! 

This is a scam, and a pretty lazy one, like the e-mails that say they need money for their child's medical bills or an overseas prince. It’s safe to say never to open an email from someone you don’t know.

There are scammers on some of the internet dating sites. You might meet someone, but there are many not exactly looking for the same things you might be. I found out a number of men were paid to be on one senior website to lure women into paying money to join. These men are usually very attractive, silver hair, and age-appropriate. Their bio says they are doctors, lawyers, retired professionals.

Once you join, you never hear from them again.

I had a neighbor who met someone online. She was thrilled to tell me all about the incredible new guy in her life. At first, I was happy for her, but warning bells started blasting off. The man starts off by overwhelming you with romance, calling multiple times a day. I said he was going too fast. She kept saying he was perfect for her, they had so much in common, but I warned her that he might ask her for money. She laughed it off.

Sure enough, a month later, she told me it ended. He asked for a first class plane ticket to visit her, saying his accounts were all tied up. A first class ticket was not much to lose, but some women are taken for a lot more. There are men who move in with the women, get into their accounts, and transfer money to offshore accounts. When they disappear, so do the funds.

A few days ago, I was standing in a grocery line when I overheard two women in their late 60s. One woman told the other she had a caller who said he was from Social Security. He said they were sending her a new card and needed her address. The woman saw right through this scam and refused, saying that he would have her address if he was truly from the agency. She said she’d hang up and call Social Security to confirm. 

I smiled. It looks like perhaps women are getting ahead in this war of scams against women of a certain age.

Not long ago IRS scams were going around, but new scams pop up every day.

Remember the good old days when the only strange call you got was someone asking:

"Is your refrigerator running? Then you better catch it."

Nowadays, it’s important to keep aware and keep safe. No need to be polite when your assets and privacy are on the line.