Township Police Chief Mark Minichini reminds seniors to stay vigilant for Social Security scams and other types of fraud after one Belleville resident recently reported that she received a suspicious call.
“The caller said he was from the Social Security Agency,” Minichini said. “Fortunately, she was savvy enough to know this agency would not request a payment and immediately realized she was being targeted for a phone scam. She refused to answer his questions and she hung up without giving out any of her personal information.”
Minichini said phone scams like this one typically prey on senior citizens, but they could target anyone.
The caller will pose as an employee for the Social Security agency, the local electric company, or a credit card company. Other times, they pose as representatives of the lottery, a tech support worker, an official from a charity, or any other official-looking organization.
What they all have in common is that they go to great lengths to appear or sound legitimate, and even the information on the caller ID may look official.
Elder fraud, as the FBI and other law enforcement officials refer to it, affects millions of seniors each year, costing them tens of millions of dollars.
There are several red flags to watch for. Hang up if the caller threatens you, says your Social Security number has been suspended or demands immediate payment via cash, gift card, prepaid debit card, or wire transfer.
Minichini said if you receive a questionable call, you should hang up and immediately report it to oig.ssa.gov. Don’t return phone calls from numbers you don’t recognize, and ask the advice of a friend or family member before making a large purchase or financial decision.
“And don’t be afraid or embarrassed to notify officials if you have given out your personal information or realize you have lost money through a scam,” Minichini said.
“The safety and well-being of our residents – especially our seniors – is always our priority,” Mayor Michael Melham said. “By informing law enforcement, you could help prevent someone else from becoming a victim of these terrible crimes.”