The advanced technology products that we use in our lives and homes every day have increased the likelihood of success of the fraudsters behind many of these scams. It is difficult to measure the true cost of fraud to the U.S. economy but estimates from experts estimate above $60 billion and increasing every year.
Here is an example of a few of the most common scams we have seen Bucks County.
Credit card (not seen) fraud- this can happen when you make transactions online or over the phone using your credit card. This seems to be one of the most popular forms of scams. Successful fraudulent transactions of this nature increase every year. To help prevent credit card fraud keep close tabs on incoming bills. Look for potentially fraudulent charges or any obvious mistakes. If you receive a call or email about a fraudulent purchase made on one of your credit cards by a particular business be suspicious. Then contact that Business directly via e-mail or phone number on the back of the credit card you were issued. Do not follow or click on links or call back a number left by a suspicious caller or e-mailer. Scammers will leave their fake and temporary number or untraceable e-mail address in the hope of tripping you up.
Bogus medical and health care claims are wreaking havoc too, with estimates of the fraud coming in around $70 billion a year. Insurance fraud in general, costs the US over $308 billion a year.
Identity theft is one of the scariest instances of fraud because victims don’t usually discover the “damage” until it is done. It can then take years and copious resources to correct the damage. The long-term effect is coping with the financial loss as well as repairing your damaged credit score. A good way to protect yourself is to put a free credit freeze on your social security number. This will help prevent fraudsters from opening new credit in your name. You can do this by contacting the major credit reporting agencies.
Fraud results in enormous costs for businesses and consumers alike. Consumer can protect themselves by being cautions when asked to share personal information or to pay money under pressure. If you are asked about either you stop, think, and verify before acting.
You might think that individuals experiencing fraud most frequently would be the elderly, lonely, and naïve segments of the population, but truthfully, even tech savvy individuals are at just as much risk of being scammed.
The most common scams are committed via telephone or internet. In fact, internet fraud becomes more sophisticated each year. It is best not to pick up or except a call if you do not know who the caller is. We suggest you let your answering services do the work. This will help cut down on future scam calls.
You should check the sender email address even from frequent, known emailers. You can often spot a scam if the address is peculiar looking or contains a name you don’t recognize. It is especially important to double check the email addresses of government agencies to ensure that the email is really from that agency.
In Bucks County we have several resources that you can contact if you suspect that you are dealing with a scam. Call Bucks County Consumer Protection or any department of the Bucks County Crimes against Older Adults Task Force at the below numbers.
To learn how to protect yourself from scams and fraud, please visit the Bucks County Consumer Protection website at: www.buckscounty.gov/cp and view our “Consumer Tips” page, or scan the QR code provided.
Bucks County Crimes Against Older Adults Task Force
Bucks County District Attorney’s Office: 215-348-6344
Senior Law Center: 1-877-727-7529
Bucks County Area Agency on Aging: 267-880-5700
Bucks County Office of Consumer Protection: 215-348-6060
Bucks County Coroner’s Office: 215-348-3852
Bucks County Register of Wills: 215-348-6265
Network of Victim Assistance (NOVA): 1-800-675-6900
US Dept. of Health and Human Services/OIG: 1-800-447-8477
www.buckscounty.gov/CrimesAgainstOlderAdults 24 - HOUR HOTLINE: 1-800-490-8505