By Caitlin Driscoll, Public Relations Director, Better Business Bureau of Western PA
Your Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be aware of the top scams being reported by senior citizens in Western Pennsylvania. Although seniors may be more scam savvy than other demographics, they are still vulnerable to fraudsters, like everyone else. Data used to generate the top scams was provided by BBB Scam Tracker (bbb.org/scamtracker/pittsburgh), a crowdsourced tool that enables consumers across the U.S. and Canada to report and track instances of fraud, while warning others of malicious or suspicious activities.
Most Reported Scams to BBB Scam Tracker by Western Pennsylvanians that are 65+:
- Tax Collection Scam: This scam is initiated by a phone call from someone claiming to be an officer of the U.S. Treasury, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or other government agency. The caller demands that a large sum of money be paid immediately for “back taxes” or another vague charge, or else you will face incarceration or even deportation.
- Phishing: Phishing is the attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and bank account or credit card details for malicious reasons through electronic communication. Common phishing scams are often disguised as being sent from trustworthy entities like banks, credit card companies and popular retailers.
- Sweepstakes/Lottery/Prize Scams: These scams involve unsolicited communication claiming that you have won a large sum of money or a significant prize. However, in order to collect the winnings, you must first send a sum of money or portion of the prize to pay for processing fees or taxes. Even after you wire the money though, you never receive the “winnings” and you are out the money you paid for “fees and taxes.”
- Tech Support Scam: A “tech support specialist” calls, usually claiming to be from Microsoft, and states that a virus has been detected on your computer. The removal process involves gaining remote access to your computer, as well as requesting financial information for payment. In another twist, cyber criminals attempt to defraud individuals by producing a pop-up on their computer, warning about a hack. The warning seems legitimate and provides a phone number to contact for technical support. Once the consumer calls “tech support,” they are asked for remote access or money to solve the problem.
Scammers will always devise new cons and utilize old tricks, but protect yourself from fraud and unethical marketplace practices by always reading the fine print, obtaining all promises in writing and avoiding high pressure solicitation tactics. Maintain strong online passwords and avoid sending money by wire transfer or prepaid debit card, as scammers know that payment made through these methods is virtually untraceable. In addition, research companies through your Better Business Bureau at bbb.org or by calling 877.267.5222 to find out a company’s rating, complaint history and more before making a hiring or purchasing decision.
Scams – What You Can Do To Protect Yourself
Monday, November 13th, 12:00 – 1:30 pm., Brentwood Library
Join Caitlin Driscoll, Public Relations Director of your Better Business Bureau, to discuss some of the most common scams that target seniors and how to protect yourself and loved ones from becoming a victim. Types of scams discussed will include phone scams, sweepstakes/promotion fraud, the grandparent scam and more. Caitlin will also share information about BBB’s free programs and services for assisting consumers and tips for making wise buying and hiring decisions. A complimentary light lunch will be served.
Please RSVP to Chris at 412-881-9022 or firstname.lastname@example.org by November 8th.