According to the Federal Trade Commission, Americans lost more than $73 million to impostor scams last year. While the agency admits the figure accounts for only a fraction of the problem because most victims fail to report the crime, instances of imposter scams have doubled between 2009 and 2013.

The U.S Senate Special Committee on Aging, led by Chairman Bill Nelson and ranking member Susan Collins, is conducting hearings this month on imposter scams, including the “grandparent” scam.

One of those testifying is an 81-year-old grandfather from Cincinnati. According to Collins’ press release, when this grandfather answered a call in December, he thought it was his grandson on the other end of the phone.

The “grandson” said he had been arrested for speeding and drug possession and urgently needed money for bail. He then turned the call over to a person claiming to be a police officer. Convinced their grandson needed help, the grandfather and his wife headed to a local retail store to purchase a money-order card to cover the cost of bail.

After sending a total of $7,000 to the supposed police officer, the couple soon discovered they had been conned out of their hard-earned money after reaching their real grandson on his cellphone. They are among an untold number of seniors who have fallen victim to an old imposter scam known as the “grandparent scam” that experts say is making a comeback across the nation.

The U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging will be investigating this type of scam and many others familiar to senior citizens.

Save money on your insurance

The new AARP Smart Driver course for drivers age 50 and older will be presented at the AARP state office, 1685 Congress St., Portland, from 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 15. Advance registration by Aug. 11 is requested. Class size is limited and registrations are accepted first-come, first served. To register, call John Hammon, volunteer instructor, at (207) 655-4943. The registration fee is $15 for AARP members, $20 for others.

The class helps older drivers adjust their driving to age-related changes in vision, hearing and reaction time. Insurance companies in Maine give discounts to drivers age 55 and older for three years after taking or re-taking the course.

Additional classes at this location in Portland will be presented in September and October. More information, including dates and locations of other classes, may be found on the Internet at

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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