Five scams that target seniors

Due to their own diligence and good habits, senior citizens often find themselves targets of scams. Retired people generally have built up an attractive pool of financial resources through a lifetime of hard work. Those assets can attract nefarious people who haven’t been as responsible with their life choices. Additionally, senior citizens can be more trusting, and they may not be as adept with modern technology. All of this means they need to keep up with various financial and technological scams. Here are five scams listed by the U.S. Department of Justice: The Social Security Imposter Scam This is a telephone scam in which the caller claims the victim’s Social Security number has been suspended due to suspicious activity, or because it has been involved in a crime. They ask to confirm the victim’s Social Security number, or they may say they need to withdraw money from the victim’s bank and to store it on gift cards or in other unusual ways for “safekeeping.” Victims may be told their accounts will be seized or frozen if they fail to act quickly.  This can appear as a robocall during which victims may be told to “press 1” to speak to a government “support representative” for help reactivating their Social Security number. They also use caller ID spoofing to make it look like the Social Security Administration is calling. With such trickery, perpetrators convince victims to give up their Social Security numbers and other personal information. The Tech Support Scam Callers claim to be computer technicians associated with a well-known company or they may use internet pop-up messages to warn about non-existent computer problems. The scammers claim they have detected viruses, other malware, or hacking attempts on the victim’s computer. They pretend to be “tech support” and ask that the victim give them remote access to his or her computer. Eventually, they diagnose a non-existent problem and ask the victim to pay… | Read More »

Just Joshing

Josh Tatum’s infamy straddles three centuries thanks to a financial scheme that apparently netted him $15,000 and inspired the U.S. Treasury Department to recall and then re-design the Liberty Nickel. If you’ve ever used the phrase “just joshing around”, you’ve referred to Mr. Tatum. Young, enterprising and, by some accounts, both deaf and mute, Josh Tatum took advantage of some similarities between the nickels minted in 1883 and gold pieces worth five dollars. Both coins were the same size and had remarkably comparable designs. At the time, the word “cents” did not appear on the nickel. So, as the story goes, Josh enlisted a friend of his to help him electroplate the nickels so he could pass them off as gold. He simply purchased low priced items, paid for them with the nickel that looked like a $5 gold piece and then collected the change. By some accounts, he wracked up more than $15,000 with this scheme, or more than $337,737.00 by today’s standards. Eventually, Josh was caught and charged but not convicted. His apparent defense was that the merchants were responsible for recognizing the value of the coins he handed over to them and, as a deaf mute, he never said anything to mislead them. He said he viewed the extra change he received as a gift. The opportunity to pass these nickels off as more valuable gold coins came and went very quickly. The U.S. Treasury first released the “Liberty Nickels” on Feb. 1, 1883 and, by March 11 of that same year, they began re-casting them with a design that included the word “cents” on them. If you’re planning to celebrate April Fool’s Day by “joshing around”, remember the origin of that phrase and always be sure to double check any financial transactions you make.