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Senior Corner - March 2016

Senior Corner - February 2016

Senior Corner - January 2016

Senior Corner - December 2015

Senior Corner - November 2015

Senior Corner - October 2015


Senior Corner - March 2016

Monthly Senior Scam - IRS phone scams on the rise as Tax Season begins

N.J. residents lose $660K to IRS phone scam, seventh highest in nation.

With tax season under way, the IRS and police departments across the state are again warning people to hang up on anyone claiming they're from IRS and demanding immediate payment.  In recent days, police have been reporting an increase in the number of residents who have found themselves on the end of a scam call.  “Don’t be fooled by callers pretending to be from the IRS in an attempt to steal your money.”

The IRS doesn't call to demand immediate payment. If taxes are owed, you would have first received a bill in the mail. The agency also doesn't ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone, require payment using a specific method or threaten to send local police to have you arrested for not paying.

The callers “are smooth talkers” who “frighten people into thinking that the IRS will be coming to arrest them.”

Once the money is sent, it’s too late. Many of these scammers are overseas, and many are hard to trace, so we focus on prevention.  "These scams are supposed to create a sense of panic and urgency and they are just trying to get that call back." 

Residents are reminded to never call the phone number the scammers leave, since this just makes you a target for more of these calls.  When the taxpayer returns the call, the conversation quickly escalates to threats of imminent arrest, deportation or suspension of driver’s license unless a payment of thousands of dollars is made immediately.

If someone calls you claiming you owe back taxes:

• Terminate the call

• If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040

•If you know you don't owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to    The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484 or online at www.tigta.gov.

Kathy Reddy, Township Seniors Services Coordinator 


Senior Corner - February 2016

Monthly Senior Scam – Medicare Imposters Want to Steal Your Money – Don’t Let Them!

Pop quiz: If someone calls you asking for your bank account number, should you give it to them? 

Answer:   NEVER. Hang up – It’s a Scam.

We’ve heard about different kinds of imposter scams on the rise.  In one scenario, scammers call, pretending to work for Medicare.  They say they need to verify your bank account number and it might even sound very convincing.  Some callers may even know the first few numbers of your account, and say you just need to verify the rest.  But if you fill in the blanks, you’re giving them access to your money – and their goal is to steal it.

The callers may say they lost your information and need it to deposit funds, provide additional benefits, or send you a new Medicare or prescription card.  They assure you there’s no charge, and act like it’s an urgent matter – that your benefits will be cut off if you don’t give them your bank account information right away.

In truth, it’s all a trick to steal your money.  Medicare will “NEVER” call you and ask you for your bank account information.

So the next time you get a call like this, here’s what to do:

NEVER give out your bank account number – or any part of your Social Security number.

Simply hang up the phone.

Report your experience at 1-877-FTC-HELP or ftc.gov/compliant.  Click on “Scams and Rip-Offs” and then “Imposter Scams.”

If you have questions about your Medicare benefits, call 1-800-MEDICARE.

Chances are, you know someone who could use a reminder on how to avoid these imposter scams.  Pass on this information and share other consumer protection tips with your friends and family.

Kathy Reddy, Township Seniors Services Coordinator 

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Senior Corner - January 2016

Monthly Senior Scam – House Alarms Can’t Stop Scammers

We moved into our house and immediately installed an alarm system to keep us safe from the bad guys.  But even the best house alarms can’t stop everything – like a scammer walking through your front door.  Here’s how it happens:

A sales agent knocks on your door, claiming he’s there to upgrade or upgrade your house alarm or home security system.  It seems like he’s with the company you use, only he isn’t.  He walks in, pulls out or disconnects your old system and installs a new one without telling you.  He then asks you to sign a document, but what you don’t know is that it’s a new contract.

Most people don’t know that they’ve been scammed until they get a call from their original home security system company, saying the system isn’t responding. Or, they start getting bills from two different alarm companies.

Here’s what to look out for to avoid this scam:

 Sales agents who say they represent your current security company and want to upgrade or install a new system.  Or, a sales person may claim that your security company has gone out of business and say they’ve taken over your account.  They might insist that you buy new equipment and sign new contracts.  If that happens, call your current company to confirm, using the phone number on paperwork that you already have.

 Sales agents who push their way into your home, or refuse to leave.  It’s always safer to say no to someone on your doorstep before they come in, rather than try to get a salesperson out of your home. Firmly tell the person no.  If they continue to pressure you, close the door and call the Police.

 High pressure or scare tactics.  Limited time offers and pressure to “act now” to protect yourself from supposed crime sprees in your neighborhood are often signs of a scam.  Report it to the FTC.

Kathy Reddy, Township Seniors Services Coordinator 

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Senior Corner - December 2015

Medicare "Open Enrollment" Scams

The 2015 Medicare open enrollment period runs from October through December.  It’s the time when Medicare recipients can comparison shop and make changes to their plans.  It’s also a time when scammers take advantage of older consumers with ruses like these:

● Someone calls and says you must join their prescription plan or you’ll lose your Medicare coverage.  Don’t believe it.  The Medicare prescription drug plan (also known as Medicare Part D) is voluntary and does not affect your Medicare coverage.

● Someone calls or e-mails claiming they need your Medicare number to update your account, get you a new card, or send you your Medicare benefit information.  It’s a Scam.  If you need help with Medicare, call 1-800—MEDICARE or go to medicare.gov.

● Someone claiming to be a Medicare plan representative says they need “to confirm” your billing information by phone or online.  STOP. IT’S A SCAM.  Plan representatives are not allowed to ask you for payment over the phone or online.

● Dishonest companies may offer you free medical exams or supplies.  Be wary. It may be a trick to get and misuse your personal information.

Whenever someone asks you for your bank account number or your Medicare number, STOP.  Only give personal or financial information when you have verified who you’re talking to.  Call 1-800-MEDICARE to make sure you’re talking to a legitimate representative.

If you believe you or someone you know is a victim of Medicare Fraud, report it to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  Call 1-800-447-8477 or visit stopmedicarefraud.gov.

If you gave out personal information, call your Banks, Credit Card Providers, Health Insurance Company, and Credit Reporting Agencies Immediately.  The FTC’s website has more information on Health Care Scams and Medical Identity Theft.
Kathy Reddy, Township Seniors Services Coordinator

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Senior Corner - November 2015

Home Improvement Scams Are no Laughing Matter

Home Repair Scams – Someone offers to do yard work or make repairs in or around your home.  You want to save money and really need the work done so you give it a shot.  He or she takes a cash payment from you upfront, leaves, and then, never returns.

It helps to know the signs of a home improvement scam.  If you’re not into DIY projects, it might make sense to hire a pro.  Finding a capable and reliable contractor is important.  A home improvement project gone wrong can cost you more than money.  It can lead to delays, sub-par work and even legal problems.

A good ad isn’t proof that a contractor does quality work.  Find out for yourself.  Check with friends, neighbors or co-workers who’ve had improvement work done.   Also check out a contactor’s reputation on online ratings sites you trust.  Get written estimates from several firms, keeping mind the lowest bidder may not be the best choice.  Ask for references.  Make sure he/she is insured.  Understand your payment options.  Try to limit the down payment amount.  Try to make payments during the project contingent upon completion of defined amounts of work.

Don’t do business with someone who:
● Pressures you for an immediate decision
● Only accepts cash, asks you to pay everything up-front, or tells you to borrow money from a lender the contractor knows.
● Is not licensed.  New Jersey requires all contractors to be licensed and/or bonded.  Check with your local building department or consumer protection agency to find out about licensing requirements in your area.
● “Just happens” to have materials left over from a previous job.

To Report a Problem:

Contact your State Attorney or Local Consumer Protection Office www.usa.gov/directory/stateconsumer

The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them.  To file a complaint or get free information, visit www.ftc.gov or call 1-800-382-4357.
Kathy Reddy, Township Seniors Services Coordinator

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Senior Corner - October 2015

MONTHLY SENIOR SCAM

Scammers may pose as relatives or friends, calling or sending messages to urge you to wire money immediately.  They will say they need cash to help with an emergency, like getting out of jail, paying a hospital bill or needing to leave a foreign country.  Their goal is to trick you into sending money before you realize that it is a scam.

If someone calls or sends a message claiming to be a family member or a friend desperate for money:
● Resist the urge to act immediately, no matter how dramatic the story is.
● Verify the person’s identity by asking questions that a stranger couldn’t possibly answer.
● Call a phone number for your family member or friend that you know to be genuine, even if you’ve been told to keep it a secret.
● DO NOT wire money – or send a check or money order.  Scammers pressure people into wiring money       right away because it’s like sending cash.  Once it’s gone, you can’t trace it or get it back.  Imposters encourage using money transfer services so they can get your money before you realize you’ve been scammed.
● NEVER give anyone your banking information or credit card information.
● Report possible fraud, at: ftc.gov/complaint or by calling 1-877-FTC-Help.

Social Networking sites make it easier than ever to sleuth out personal and family information.  To make their story seem legitimate, they may involve another crook who claims to be an authority figure, like a lawyer or police officer.

Scammers play on your emotions and are banking on your love and concern to outweigh your skepticism.  In one version of this scam, con-artists impersonate grandchildren in distress to trick concerned grandparents into sending money.

They swear you to Secrecy.  Con-artists may insist that you keep their request for money confidential to keep you from checking out their story and identifying them as imposters.  Victims of this scam often don’t realize that they’ve been tricked until days later, when they speak to their actual family member or friend, who knows nothing about the “emergency.”  By then, the money they sent can’t be recovered.
Kathy Reddy, Township Seniors Services Coordinator

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