Thursday, December 7, 2017

Steve Marshall: There are ways to help protect elderly from scammers

Many of our parents and grandparents, and those in the older generation of Alabamians, have worked hard to make good lives, take care of their families and build our communities. They deserve security and respect, but unfortunately, they may become targets of fraud, exploitation or abuse. The best way we can protect them is through preventive education and vigilance to stop those who would take advantage of our senior citizens.

The same general advice that applies to everyone in avoiding scams applies to the elderly, though they may be subject to particular fraud such as someone pretending to be a grandchild in trouble and in urgent need of money. Other common tricks are impersonating law enforcement, court officials or the IRS and demanding the immediate payment of fines. They use deceptive caller IDs to look like real officials and employ threatening high-pressure tactics designed to make the victim panic and act in haste. A common thread that should send a red warning light is that they ask for the money to be paid by gift cards or pre-paid money cards.

Lottery scams are common where a letter tells recipients that they are winners and victims are directed to wire money to cover the fees. Sometimes consumers are asked to send financial account numbers under the deception that the information will be used to deposit winnings into their accounts.

Other scams targeting seniors use Medicare, trying to bill for services or devices that were never received. Be wary anytime you or your loved ones are asked to provide personal information such as bank or credit card accounts, and Medicare or Social Security numbers.

As a general rule, never give personal information unless you have initiated contact with the other person or verified their validity. It is always best to shred receipts. Closely monitor your accounts for any unauthorized activity.

Many organizations provide advocacy and useful information for senior citizens, as well as general consumer advice. Some organizations that may be helpful include:

l The National Council on Aging and your local councils on aging. The national website is You may find local organizations through telephone directory service or through the Alabama Department of Senior Services.

l Alabama Department of Senior Services. The website is and its toll-free line is 1-800-AGE-LINE, or 1-800-243-5463.

l Alabama Securities Commission. Its website is and its toll-free line is 1-800-222-1253.

l Alabama Department of Human Resources. Its main website is To reach its Adult Protective Services page, click on Services and then click on Adult Protective Services. The state office’s phone number is 1-334- 242-1310, and each county has a local Department of Human Resources office.

l The Alabama Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is responsible for investigating and prosecuting allegations of abuse, neglect and the financial exploitation of residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Those allegations can be submitted via the Unit’s email address. The phone number for the Attorney General’s office is 334-242-7300.

l Federal Trade Commission. Its website is and its phone number is 202-326-2222.

l The FBI has a page on its website about common consumer frauds and how to avoid being victimized. That page is

l Alabama Attorney General’s Office, Consumer Interest Division. The main website is and you may click on one of the tabs across the top marked Consumer. The toll-free consumer line is 1-800-392-5658.

Have a talk with your senior friends and loved ones about scams and tell them it’s ok to say no the next time they receive a questionable solicitation.

Steve Marshall is the Alabama Attorney General.

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Steve Marshall: There are ways to help protect elderly from scammers

1 comment:

Finny said...

It the time of year scammers rev up their attacks. Be vigilant with your elderly loved ones.