Beware of These Senior Scams in New Jersey

May 5th, 2017 1 Comment

Scams Seniors Should Be Aware of in New Jersey

Senior Scams in NJ: Beware!

Scams can affect anyone, but seniors are often the victims because they frequently live alone, are home in the day to answer the phone, are more trusting, and are less likely than younger adults to report the scam. If you live in New Jersey and you’re a senior or have a loved one who is, take note of these scams that are going around. Take a look at some of the most common scams, and then find out how to avoid them.

Call from the Sheriff’s Office

One scam starts with a call from the “sheriff’s office” in which the caller claims the victim owes a fine and needs to pay it now. But the call is from a scammer, not the sheriff’s office. If you get a call like this, hang up right away and call the actual police to report it. This way, if you’re not sure if it’s a scam, your local police can put your mind at ease and let you know you don’t owe any fines.

Threats to Cut Off Utility Services

Some scammers in New Jersey have been threatening residents with cutting off electricity, water, or other necessary services unless the victim makes a payment over the phone. This especially targets seniors because they often aren’t in charge of paying their bills, so they don’t know if they actually owe money or not. They may pay it because they cannot go without electricity or water. If you get a call like this and question if it’s a scam, hang up and call the utility company on your own to confirm whether you have a balance.

Requests for Ransom or Bail Money

Another popular scam that targets seniors is the “grandparent scam,” in which a fraudulent person calls seniors and tells them that their grandchild is in jail and needs bail money right away (they may even pose as their grandchild). They tell the victim not to tell the child’s parents, making it harder for the senior to verify the story before wiring money. A similar scam is when scammers call and claim they have kidnapped a relative of the victim and want ransom money. Once victims pay, they often find out their relative was never kidnapped, but has been safe at home all along. If you get a call like this, get in touch with the supposedly jailed or kidnapped relative to verify the story. Never be afraid to ask a friend or family member for their advice. Never send money without verifying.

Microsoft Scam

In this scam, scammers call the victim’s phone and say they are from Microsoft or an affiliate, and that the victim’s computer has a virus. The scammers’ goals are to either sell the victim virus protection, or most likely to have them install a program in which they can take over the victim’s computer. Once they have control of the computer, they can access financial and personal information, leading to all sorts of fraudulent activity. Note that Microsoft will never contact a user by telephone; if someone calls you and reports that your computer has a virus, hang up immediately.

If it’s too late–you or an older relative have already been scammed–contact the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs at 1-800-242-5846 to file a complaint right away. You can also alert the Federal Trade Commission of the scam by calling 1-877-382-4357.


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