- 2018 Posts
- Caregiver Specialist Heather Resnick on Caregiver Support
- Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
- Center Launches North Shore Senior Options
- On Blindness, Alzheimer's and Love
- Shared Vision: Winnetka Congregational Church Woman's Society Benevolence Committee
- Protecting Seniors and Adults with Disabilities: Adult Protective Services
- A Jack of All Trades: Al Davis
- Family Tradition: Gone Fishin'
- Dedicated Volunteer: Fern Kamen
- Generous Soul: Mitchell Slotnick
- Assessing the Older Adult Members of your Family
- Giving Back: Fay Goldblatt
- Adult Protective Services (APS) Program Benefits from Shamrock Shindig
- Humble Beginnings: Bobbi Halloran
+ 2017 Posts
- Arts and Crafts at the Center
- #GivingTuesday at North Shore Senior Center
- Leisure Time Well Spent - Daytrips at the Center
- New Advisory Council Formed
- Playreading with Vivian Mitchel
- North Shore Senior Center's Foundation Board
- Wills vs. Trusts
- Joan Golder Distinguished Senior Lecture Series showcased actor Mike Nussbaum
- 20/20 Corporate Campaign
- Functional Fitness: Training for Everyday Life
- Benefits of Pet Therapy for People with Memory Loss
- Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Benefit from Oktoberfest
- Small Screen Big Stars: Oh What a Night!
- Sharing a Common Thread
- Helping You Make Informed Choices for Care
- 2017 Janet Burgoon Philanthropic Excellence Award for Distinguished Community Partner
- 2017 Janet Burgoon Philanthropic Excellence Award for Dedicated Corporation
- 2017 Janet Burgoon Philanthropic Excellence Award for Outstanding Philanthropist
- Special Needs Trusts
- Gifts in Kind Increase the Center's Impact
- Enrich your Life with Lifelong Learning
- A Little TLC Goes a Long Way
- PEARLS: Reducing Symptoms of Depression Home-based Counseling Services Available
- Big Stars to Chair Annual Benefit
- Evanston Community Foundation
- Million Dollar Round Table Foundation
- Super Senior Day
- New Physical Therapy Services Now Available at North Shore Senior Center!
- Stroke Prevention Tips
- Why Powers of Attorney are Important to You!
- Get Expert Help with Your Tax Returns
- North Shore Senior Center Awarded Gold Status for Philanthropic Efforts
- Fitness as a Goal for Life
- Men's Club Offers Unique Programs to Community
- Spread the Love at North Shore Senior Center
- Jean Griswold Foundation supports House of Welcome Adult Day Services
- "I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for people." - Maya Angelou
- "A true hero isn't measured by the size of his strength, but by the strength of his heart." - Zeus from Hercules
- Winter Safety and Health Tips
- "A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself." - Joseph Campbell
- A Granddaughter's Love for her Grandmother
- Six Things to Consider Before Making Gifts to Grandchildren
- Lending Closet for Durable Medical Equipment at North Shore Senior Center
- Seniors Can Save Lives by Donating Blood
+ 2016 Posts
- Lifelong Learning Catalog Wins International Award for Best Brochure
- Life Stories are Gifts that Keep on Giving
- Visiting Aging Parents During the Holidays
- Edna Weber Garden of Light Wing at the House of Welcome
- Learn More About What Makes This World Tick
- 60 Years of Service: Advocacy
- 60 Years of Service: Compassion
- Myrna and John Cruikshank, III: Steady and Committed Philanthropists
- Kenilworth United Fund: Longstanding, Civic-Minded Community Partner
- Radford Green at Sedgebrook: Dedicated Corporation and Vested Supporter
- Simple Tips to Improve Your Balance
- 60 Years of Service: Creativity
- Daily Money Management Fosters Peace of Mind
- Opportunities for Learning, Exploring, and Connecting
- The Edna Weber "Garden of Light" Wing
- Protecting Vulnerable Seniors: Adult Protective Services Promotes Quality of Life
- Top Ten Reasons Why Older Adults Continue to Work
- Super Seniors We Admire!
- Scams and Fraud: Protect Yourself
- The State's Devastating Impact on Our Budget
- North Shore Senior Center Southern Hub Moves to Niles
- Alzheimer's Family Support Group
- Evanston Support Group for Family Caregivers
- Family Caregiver Support Group in Skokie
+ 2015 Posts
- Music + Dance + Dialogue = A Musical!
- Flex and Strengthen Your Muscles
- Generous & Caring Corporate Citizen
- More Than Service and Fellowship
- Art Gallery a "Hidden Gem" at North Shore Senior Center
- Sound Off on Hearing Loss
- Making Sense of American Poltics
- Fitness Center Enhances More Than Muscle Strength
- Virtual View of Art: From the Basics to Specialties
- Social Connections are a Key to Successful Aging
- North Shore Senior Center Celebrates Super Seniors!
- Super Senior Spotlight
- What is a Senior Center?
- MDRT Foundation Aids Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Program
- Social Worker Reaches Out to Seniors in Need
- How to Achieve Your Healthiest Brain Yet
- AmazonSmile: Your Online Shopping Can Help NSSC!
+ 2014 Posts
Scams and Fraud: Protect YourselfApril 14, 2016
STOP. CHECK. DISCONNECT. SAFEGUARD.
Let this become your mantra for avoiding scams.
By Jan Klingberg
SCAMMERS, CON ARTISTS, SWINDLERS
Often working in partnership, scammers have chosen the vocation of cheating others out of money or precious possessions. These swindlers often are fast talkers, charming, and smooth. They know how to build trust and employ their skills to prey on—and play on—the frailty of seniors.
Why are seniors such an easy target? First of all, many were raised valuing kindness and graciousness. So, they are disinclined to hang up on a caller or rebuff a door-to-door solicitor. Many seniors tend to keep more cash at home and frequently are home alone. Scammers know that older adults are reluctant to report the scam out of embarrassment or fear of losing their independence.
In the northern suburbs of Chicago, some scams directed at older adults are more prevalent than others. For example, the ruse entry, home repair fraud, and grandparent hoax have trapped many victims.
With a fake identity, a utility imposter is at your door saying he’s from the village water department, Nicor or Commonwealth Edison and needs to mark the location for an upcoming project. He looks legitimate. But is he really?
Northfield Police Chief Bill Lustig tells about a con artist who appeared at a resident’s door claiming he was from the Northfield Water Department. The homeowner was skeptical about his need to survey the property for a new pipe, so they went to her backyard for a “show and tell.” The imposter then surreptitiously signaled his partner who burglarized her home while they were outside.
The same tactic of distracting or isolating the victim also works when the imposter gains entry by claiming that the water heater or pipes need to be checked. His partner ransacks the house while the victim is in the basement.
Home Repair Fraud
Another swindle often is prompted by a victim’s actual need for home or yard repair. The con artist claims to have extra material from a nearby driveway job that he needs to get rid of it. He says he can give you a good price because he doesn’t want to dump the material. He’ll want money up front—cash or a check made out to him.
Sergeant James Harrison of the Winnetka Police Department said, “If the person offers you something that seems too good to be true, it usually is.” Why? Because that driveway resurfacing may be with inferior products, and you may have paid an exorbitant price for the job instead of getting a bargain. This scam also happens with other types of home repairs, like roofing, siding, and painting.
“This is the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and we have apprehended your grandson Billy,” the caller says. “You need to wire $1,500 immediately so he doesn’t have to sit in jail overnight.” You don’t want your beloved Billy to be locked up, so you scramble to gather and transmit the money. Unbeknownst to you, Billy is not in trouble, and he’s not even in Canada! But your protective instinct sets in and you react. You are swindled out of a lot of money.
Perhaps you haven’t been trapped by one of these dishonest schemes. But you may have fallen victim to another fraudulent approach...or could be an easy target. Be alert for other scams, like:
Personal Data Theft
Stealing social security (and other) numbers occurs online and over the telephone. A phone ploy can easily trip up an unwary senior because it seems so legitimate. You could receive a call, for instance, from someone saying she’s from a local court. She warns that because you failed to respond to a jury summons, she’s issuing a warrant for your arrest. You need to give her your birth date and social security number, or she will immediately send a police officer to pick you up.
Or you could be called by someone posing as a Social Security employee who claims she needs to verify your personal data.
Jason Echols, healthcare consumer protection coordinator for AgeOptions, cautioned that without your knowledge, your Medicare account could be charged for: 1) Services you didn’t get; 2) Services different from those you received; or 3) Treatment that is medically unnecessary.
Telemarketing or Mail Fraud
“You’ve won a $100,000 prize, but you must send $5,000 in taxes to claim the prize,” says the letter. Commander Joe Dugan of the Evanston Police Department warned that you may even receive a counterfeit $100,000 check. So, you send the payment and deposit the prize check. However, it bounces and you’re out $5,000.
Steve Bernas, president of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago, tells about a local family that was going through a parent’s financial matters. They discovered that over a six- to eight-month period, she had lost $100,000 to individuals who had told her she had won lotteries.
Green Dot Scam
“An imposter from a utility company might call saying that you owe money for a past bill,” said Sgt. Harrison. You have to pay up or your electricity, gas, or water will be shut off. “You can prevent that,” says the caller, “if I send someone over to pick up cash.” Or he suggests you get a Green Dot card—a prepaid debit card—and give him the security number printed on the card when he calls back.
The list of fraudulent activity we’ve discussed is by no means comprehensive. So, given the prevalence of deceptive schemes, you can decrease your risk by taking some precautions.
This is the #1 rule from police departments and other experts who counsel seniors and troubleshoot fraud. When you pause or hesitate, your thinking gear gains traction. Take time to verify the credentials of the village or utility worker—ID, uniform, vehicle—who appears at your door.
Don’t be pressured into deciding on the spot about a home repair offer. Hesitate. No decision about a large project is so critical that it requires an immediate response.
If you need a home repair, you can usually avoid loss by disregarding unsolicited offers and seeking out a contractor. “The problem is,” Bernas says, “consumers don’t do their homework. Ask to see the permits. Verify insurance.” You can research contractors with resources like the Better Business Bureau or Angie’s List.
Sometimes a quick check can prevent a rip-off. With the grandchild hoax, for instance, the first step is to call the grandchild or his parent and find out what’s going on. Don’t go directly to the bank to withdraw money. “Unless you can 100% confirm the situation, don’t wire money,” warned Sgt. Harrison.
Check on the apparent prize you’ve won from a foreign or other lottery. First, did you enter the contest? Is it a legal contest? “You will never have to wire money to claim a prize for a legitimate contest,” said Sergeant Roger Ockrim of the Wilmette Police Department. “Furthermore, it is illegal for U.S. citizens to participate in any foreign lottery.” Check invoices for accuracy. Mr. Echols suggested, for example, that you review your printed or online Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) regularly for any sign of fraudulent charges. A baseless claim could cost you—a future claim might be denied because “you already have been reimbursed for those services.”
Hang up immediately on an unknown caller who starts to offer you a deal! “The longer he talks, the more convincing he becomes,” said Chief Lustig. Be cautious even if the call appears to be legitimate. Always ask who it is and the company name. Tell the caller you’ll call back, giving you time to check authenticity. A bona fide enterprise will be willing to give you the information you request and to wait for a call back.
It’s ok, too—not rude—to “disconnect” (turn away) a door-to-door solicitor! Don’t let a person sweet talk his way into your wallet.
Your credit card, checking account, and social security numbers are valuable assets and the fraudster’s ticket to identity theft. Be careful when using an online form—go directly to the website through your Internet browser rather than following a link from an email.
Never give out private information over the phone to an unknown caller or even a supposed official from Social Security, Medicare, or the IRS. “No government entity will request personal data over the phone,” said Cmdr. Dugan.
YOU’VE BECOME A VICTIM
Despite your caution, if you are victimized, report the criminal activity. Bernas said that nine out of ten people don’t report incidents of fraud. That’s why con artists get away with it. So, call the police immediately. Sgt. Ockrim said that even if you aren’t duped, report any suspicious activity in your neighborhood. Police will be on the alert and could prevent your neighbors from becoming victims.
You also can inform and turn for assistance to organizations such as AgeOptions and the Better Business Bureau or governmental agencies—e.g., Illinois Office of the Attorney General—that troubleshoot fraud.
Seniors are vulnerable targets across the U.S. “The amount lost to swindlers, whether they are strangers or even relatives, is huge, with estimates ranging from almost $3 billion to more than $30 billion annually,” says Consumer Reports. Don’t be among the local victims of fraudulent activity: educate yourself and take precautions.