Protect yourself and the elderly from utility scams

Scams on the elderly continue to grow at a rapid pace across America with no relief in sight. 

Financial fraud, romance scams, grandparent scams, IRS scams, and lottery scams are all on the rise.  According to the FBI, seniors are suffering from losses up to $3 billion annually and elder fraud continues to escalate.

One scam making the rounds in the elderly community is the utility scam. Typically, the scam artist strives to create a sense of urgency and schemes to confuse older adults.  Their crafty plan is for seniors to act on fear before thinking through situations. 

Let's imagine, it is in the middle of dreadful weather conditions and you receive a call or a house visit from a fraudster claiming your electricity or gas will be cut off if you don't pay immediately.  Knowing the brutal weather conditions and how hectic your schedule is at the moment, it is likely that you might not be thinking clearly.  In those stressful conditions, you may decide to give the impostor your bank or credit card information to prevent interruptions. Once the scam artist has your financial information, chances are good that they will take it all.  Stories like this rarely have a happy ending.  This crime could be prevented by taking the time to call your provider.

A fraudster will fake working for a utility and tell the customer that they have a short time frame to make a payment. The criminal then prompts the customer to go to a local retail store like Walgreens, Target, or Walmart to purchase a MoneyPak for the required amount.  Once that is accomplished, the customer is then told to call another number and share the number on the gift card.  Once that is accomplished, the fraudster is long gone with the money.

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