Nassau Cop Shares Tips For Preventing Senior Scams

Con artists are constantly coming up with schemes that take advantage of the elderly. Cybercrimes against older adults have increased five times since 2014, costing more than $650 million in losses per year, according to FBI and FTC statistics compiled for a recent study conducted by the Aspen Institute’s Tech Policy Hub.

In Nassau County, where officials say overall crime is at a 30-year low, the biggest crimes that the police department faces are scams that target senior citizens. But there are ways to prevent becoming a victim. Veteran Nassau County police officer Jesse Cooper shared the most common senior scams and tips to help you stay safe.

What are common examples senior scams in Nassau County?
The main types of phone scams we see are kidnapped or arrested family members, government agencies, utility companies, lottery/prize winners and credit card interest rate reduction. Scammers have the ability to change their caller ID to display a familiar name to get their victims to answer the phone. Also many scammers call with a professional sounding pre-recorded message.
Why are seniors so often the target of scams?
Seniors usually have access to large amounts of cash savings, this makes the job of the scammer easier. Seniors are more easily accessible by phone than those who are not retired.
What are some warnings that an older adult has become a victim of a scam?
Scammers are ruthless. Often times they’ll ask for money by mediums that are untraceable, such as gift cards, Green Dot MoneyPak, MoneyGram and Western Union. Scammers use whatever means necessary to place a victim in a state of panic or fear. Once a person is in this state, it is easier for the scammer to get the victim to comply with their instructions. Once a scammer has received funds from a victim they will often call again and again with a new problem or additional circumstances that require more money to be paid by the victim.
What precautions can families take?
Anyone can be a victim, not just
seniors. The best way to prevent being scammed is to not answer the phone unless you are absolutely positive that it is someone you know. If someone is asking for money, hang up, chances are it’s a scam. Advise family members to never give personal information out over the phone such as credit card, social security card or bank account information.
How is the Nassau County Police Department combating scams?
The Nassau County Police Department has been proactive in reaching out to our citizens by giving presentations to senior groups and clubs to spread awareness and information about how scammers work and how to prevent being a victim of a scam.
What should people do if they realize they have been scammed?
They should immediately call 911. Speaking to a police officer and documenting the incident helps us keep track of trends and may help lead to an arrest.

Cyndi Zaweski
Cyndi Zaweski is the former editor of Anton Media Group's special sections.

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