A few minutes ago, a call from “Homestead Villa” rang on the phone. Note, the absence of the 717 prefix. This often happens with a local call. While our advice is always “DO NOT ANSWER THE CALL IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHO THE CALLER IS” we do answer all calls because this is a home office phone for our role of Link coordinator.
The “caller” was one of those annoying voice recordings announcing a FREE something or other. Immediately cleared the call.
Masked SPAM calls are become more and more frequent; getting people to respond to a known local call is part of the scam. The scammers technology is becoming more and more pernicious and sneaky.
The federal and state DO NOT CALL lists are ineffective and apparently the Federal Trade Commission is incapable of putting counter technology into play.
Pennsylvania’s Attorney General is on record as saying, ‘Don’t answer the phone,’ AG Shapiro tells seniors how not to become scam victims.”
So, it appears our most vulnerable populations are being held hostage by technological and seemingly nobody cares enough to stop the hostage-takers.
by Tara Siegel Bernard
“It’s not just you.
“Those pesky robocalls — at best annoying disturbances and at worst costly financial scams — are getting worse.
“In an age when cellphones have become extensions of our bodies, robocallers now follow people wherever they go, disrupting business meetings, church services and bedtime stories with their children.
“Though automated calls have long plagued consumers, the volume has skyrocketed in recent years, reaching an estimated 3.4 billion in April, according to YouMail, which collects and analyzes calls through its robocall blocking service.”
“New Medicare ID Card Mailing Delayed a Month; but first-time enrollees will get redesigned cards now” – AARP
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services via AP
“Medicare officials say they have delayed mailing out the new Medicare identification cards to current beneficiaries because they are stepping up their anti-fraud initiatives.
“According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), beneficiaries living in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia will begin receiving their new Medicare ID cards in May, not April, as originally scheduled.
“‘We are working on making our processes even better by using the highest levels of fraud protection when we mail new cards to current Medicare beneficiaries,’ the CMS notes.
“The CMS also announced that new enrollees in Medicare will automatically get the revamped cards, regardless of where they live.”
“Most telephone scammers rely on talk, getting you to pick up the phone so they can give their impersonations of IRS agents, noble fundraisers, tech-support saviors or grandkids in need. But with a new breed of telephone fraudsters, sometimes you don’t even need to say “Hello” to get ripped off. Here’s how some of these crooks may target you.
Call Center Fraud
“There are scam artists who spend hours calling the customer service centers of banks, insurance companies and other institutions, posing as people like you, to try to access accounts. These crimes have more than doubled in the past year. “That’s because reps only ask a couple of simple authentication questions — maybe your mother’s maiden name or your Social Security number — before you can transfer money or do whatever,” explains Ken Shuman of Pindrop, a company that provides antifraud services to call centers.
“Scammers start by assembling information on you, stolen in data breaches, purchased on the “dark web” or gleaned with a simple Google search. Then, working from boiler rooms (often overseas), they spend all day phoning different call centers to determine if you have accounts with those companies. With your data in hand, they can often answer the authentication questions that call centers ask.”
This call came to our Link to Aging and Disability Resources telephone number this afternoon. While we do answer most of the calls because they can be legitimate calls for assistance or information, this call came while our phone was silenced during a Link event.
Invariably, we recommend that you do not answer phone calls from numbers you do not recognize – let the calls go to your voicemail. When we retrieved the voice message, this is what we heard.
THIS IS A SCAM CALL – Click here to listen to the message that purports to be a call from the IRS.
“Thousands of people have lost millions of dollars and their personal information to tax scams. Scammers use the regular mail, telephone, or email to set up individuals, businesses, payroll and tax professionals.
“The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. Recognize the telltale signs of a scam.”
Pennsylvania’s Attorney General’s office released this warning, too.
Remember, scammers want to prey on you! Don’t let that happen.
DO NOT ANSWER CALLS FROM NUMBERS YOU DO NOT KNOW.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a long history of protecting people from scams. As part of its ongoing efforts to protect people in every community, the FTC recently took steps to stop two schemes harming older adults: a tech support scam and a sweepstakes scam.
This latest tech support scam, which appears to impact older adults, has a lot in common with other scams we’ve seen. Some scammers pretend to be calling from the technical support department of a well-known company. Others send pop-up messages warning you about a problem with your computer. They want you to believe your computer is infected with a virus, or that a hacker is trying to access your computer. It’s all a ploy to get you to pay for bogus technical support you don’t need. Find out how you can help someone you know recognize and avoid a tech support scam.
The other operation appears to target older adults with a sweepstakes scam. The companies behind the scam send mailers that make people think they’ve won a $1 million prize (or more!), and that the recipient only needs to pay a small fee to claim it. Find out how you can help someone you know avoid a prize or sweepstakes scam.
If you think you see a scam, talk with someone. Your story could help someone avoid that scam. Then report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint. Your story could help the FTC stop the scammers.
SOURCE: news release
Should you get this card in the mail, throw it away! The Better Business Bureau shows this not very flattering report.
After googling URP VEHICLE DIVISION, there were mostly warnings like these:
“An elderly friend received a card in the mail from “URP Vehicle Division” with a postal address of 3216-1 Rue Royale, St. Charles MO 63301 and this 800 number listed. I trust (the real) Resident47 when he said these are scams. Same goes for the shills who think anyone is foolish enough to fall for their fake review.”
“One of the most obnoxious and deceptive marketing campaigns I have ever seen is taking place right now. It uses postcards, letters, and phone calls to sell outrageously priced extended warranties.”
Consumer Reports says, “Car warranty scams, which attempt to trick consumers into buying vehicle service contracts, continue to plague consumers despite government efforts to crack down on the caper.”
The Federal Trade Commission says this about: “Auto Service Contracts and Warranties”
And the Better Business Bureau says this about United Repair Programs.
As we socialize online, we are opening ourselves up to many great things; travel tips, fine dining reviews, fashion trends and more. Sometimes new friendships…It starts out as someone making a simple comment on social media, something complimentary or perhaps a kind remark that strikes your attention. After a short time, your new “friend” offers a photo of him or herself, and it’s just as you imagined, you start to share more photos and little facts about yourself. Before you know it, you have developed a virtual relationship, you have a strong connection and are hopeful that they feel the same. It is suggested that you should plan to meet, go out on the town and have a great time getting to know each other in person, what could go wrong?
And then it happens, your new found love needs your help, “could you possibly loan me $5,000, as I am out of the country and in need of emergency surgery”, or perhaps, “I am in the midst of a huge business deal abroad and I cannot access my account from here”. Whatever the reason, they are asking for your money. If you were to send this money, you can bet on being asked for more and more, some victims have reported losses upwards of $49,000.00.
Criminals create false identities, steal photos from other sources and groom victims by slowly learning bits of personal information, and then build that expectation of a future together, all the while actually preparing to steal your hard earned money.
According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), in 2016, almost 15,000 complaints categorized as romance scams or confidence fraud were reported and the losses exceeded $230 million. Pennsylvania ranks in the top 5 states with reported victims. The FBI reports 82% of romance scam victims are women and women over 50 are defrauded out of the most money.
While most victims fail to notify authorities due to embarrassment, we encourage you to report this criminal activity. Many of these scammers are operating outside the United States, this alone creates a greater challenge to investigate and prosecute these crimes. Keep in mind, not all of the scammers are from overseas, a recent complaint right here in Pennsylvania was allegedly perpetrated by a man living in California. Follow these tips below when anyone pushes you into a sweetheart scam scenario.
Be careful what you post, because scammers can use that information against you. If you develop a romantic relationship with someone you meet online, consider the following:
- Research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the material has been used elsewhere on other websites.
- Beware if the individual seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or Facebook to go “offline.”
- Beware if the individual tells you to keep this a secret or requests inappropriate photos or financial information that could later be used to extort you.
- Beware if the individual promises to meet in person but then keeps putting it off.
- Never send money to anyone you don’t know personally.
If you suspect an online relationship is a scam, stop all contact immediately. Call local police and file a complaint with the FBI at www.ic3.gov , the Pennsylvania Attorney General by email – firstname.lastname@example.org or online at www.attorneygeneral.gov.
In cooperation with Crime Alert Berks County, this article has been written to provide basic information to warn the public about common fraud and scams by the Pennsylvania Crime Prevention Officers’ Association (PCPOA) a non-profit 501c(3). For more information please visit our website at www.PaCrimePrevention.org.
The Federal Trade Commission knows it!
AARP and others know it.
This it the time of year that brings out the scammers.
A 2015 AARP article stated: “More than two-thirds (70%) of American holiday shoppers who donated to a charity or fundraiser in the past 12 months did so without asking what percentage of their donation went to the fundraiser versus to the charity itself.”
So, be careful! Be vigilant! and …
Please Report Scams
If you spot a scam, please report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Report scams online or call the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or TTY 1-866-653-4261.
Your complaint can help protect other people. By filing a complaint, you can help the FTC’s investigators identify bad business practices and scam artists, and stop a friend from over-paying. It really makes a difference.