Senior Center to host presentation about scams

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, August 15, 2018

On Monday, Mississippi State University Extension Agent Dawn Vosbein will be giving a presentation at the Senior Center of South Pearl River County to help senior citizens learn how to detect scams and report them.

Vosbein said there are several types of scams seniors should be aware of. For instance, a common scam invovles a young person calling a senior citizen at random claiming to be a grandchild in need. Vosbein said it can be difficult for senior citizens to remember the ages and life circumstances of every grandchild or great grandchild, so they often fall prey to these scam artists.

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Sometimes scammers will call a person’s phone and pretend to be the IRS or other agency and ask for personal information or payment. Vosbein said the IRS will never make calls concerning back taxes. But the callers employ scare tactics to make the victim believe the call is legitimate.

Online scams are also growing in popularity, and can be difficult to detect, Vosbein said. Sometimes scammers will create a social media account that looks similar to a friend’s account and will start messaging seniors under the guise of being an old friend. Sometimes these people will string victims along for months before finally asking for money, Vosbein said.

Although phone and Internet scams are popular, Vosbein said it is also important to be aware of in-person scams. For instance, if someone comes knocking on doors claiming they are a member of a nonprofit organization seeking donations. In these instances, it is important to verify who the person is and that they do represent the organization before offering any money. She said the same applies to people offering to conduct yard or roofing work at a home. Seniors should look into their credentials and ensure the work is complete before providing payment, Vosbein said.

Scammers often target seniors because they tend to be more trusting, she said. This is especially true for seniors who live in small communities, since they are not used to people trying to steal from them. As people age, they also begin to lose some of their ability to make critical decisions, she said.

Government agencies should always be alerted when a person is suspicious that a scam is taking place, Vosbein said. She said if someone asks for money in person and it seems like a scam, local law enforcement should be informed. In instances of an online or phone scam, that person should inform either the Attorney General’s office or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

For more information about scams and how to detect them, Vosbein will be giving a presentation from 11 a.m. to noon at the Senior Center. The event is free and registration is not required. The Senior Center can be reached at 601-798-9892.