We seniors tend to point out that we have lived a long time and have lots of experience; therefore, we’re not about to get “scammed” by some fast-talking, pleasant person on the phone. But in truth, it happens frequently and most often to us – those with the most experience, the elders. From the Maine Attorney General’s website, the following will jog your memory and remind you of some of the most common scams:

Credit card interest rate scam: This scam usually begins with an automated phone call. A message will state that the call is coming from a company with a name like “card services,” “card holder services” or “credit card services.” You’ll be told that you can lower your interest rate. The caller then requests your credit card number, Social Security number or other personal information. Never give out your Social Security, credit card or bank account information based on an automated phone call.

Medicare scam: Many Maine seniors have received phone calls claiming to be from Medicare or from the “health office.” The callers ask for the Mainer by name and appear to be offering seniors some sort of supplemental health insurance or prescription coverage. Consumers with questions about Medicare can get more information from the Medicare offices at 1-800-MEDICARE.

Grandparent scam: An increasingly common scam involves a call from someone claiming to be your grandchild. The scammer will claim that there has been a mishap and money is needed immediately. Never wire money or give out bank information based on a telephone call.

Fake check scams: Fake check scams often originate through email. Whatever the setup, the bottom line is if someone you don’t know sends you a check but wants you to wire money back, it’s a scam. Be skeptical. There is no legitimate reason for you to wire money back to someone who has paid with a check. If you think you are a victim of a scam you should: Contact the FTC at 877-FTC-HELP, contact your local post office and/or call 800-436-2131, the Maine Attorney General’s Office.

Lottery/sweepstakes: You receive a letter in the mail saying you have won thousands of dollars in a lottery or sweepstakes. They send you a check to cover taxes or some other bogus fee. You deposit the check in your bank account and then wire the required fee, probably to Canada. Your bank contacts you days later to alert you that the check is fraudulent and you now have to pay the bank back.

Nigerian scheme: You receive a letter, email or fax asking you to deposit checks or money orders, or asking for your bank account information. You may be asked to deposit money and then wire a percentage back to the scammer. The checks and money orders are counterfeit. You will end up paying back thousands to the bank. This scam often originates out of Nigeria. The scammers will have a seemingly good reason for asking your help. Do not believe them.

Internet phishing: Phishing is a term that means getting your personal information by deception and using the information to steal your identity. A common phishing scheme comes through your email and disguises itself as a bank that needs to update your personal information.

No matter how legitimate the message looks, never send personal information over the Internet unless you initiate the contact.

Remember, the state Attorney General’s office has lots of free information and consumer guides to help. If you have any question, call 800-436-2131.

Kay Soldier welcomes reader ideas for column topics of interest to seniors. She can be reached by email at [email protected], or write to 114 Tandberg Trail, Windham, ME 04062.


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