Every week it seems like one of us is writing about a scam targeting people in the Quad Cities. Last week KWQC reported 700 customers of Ameren Illinois have been targets of utility scams. This past summer a Davenport woman let a man posing as an Iowa American Water Company employee into her home and he stole $20,000 cash and jewlwery. KWQC reported on that too.

In an effort to make us all safer from scams here are some common scams from SeniorLiving.Org and how to avoid them. While geared for senior citizens I think this is good for all of us to know.

Telemarketing Scams 

The goal in a lot of these scams is to either get your bank information, a credit card number or a social security card number. The key to not falling victim to this type of scam is to remember "any legitimate financial institution or large corporation along with agencies such as the IRS will not call and ask for personal information over the phone."

The Pigeon Drop

In this scenario someone offers the victim a larger sum of money for a smaller sum of money. For example, someone approaches the victim and says they inherited a large sum of money and they need the victim's help and cash to acquire the money. As a  thank you the scammer scammer promises the victim half the larger sum of money. The scammers will then take your money and you'll never see the windfall they promised. Bottom line, if it's too good to be true, it probably is. If someone wants to give you money, it shouldn't cost you anything to get it.

Fake Accident Scenarios 

In this scam scammers try to get money out of the victim by telling him or her a family member has been hurt in an accident and that their family member is in the hospital. Money needs to be sent immediately so that family member can begin receiving treatment. The victim is often pressured to send the money NOW, before they can check to see if their relative actually is in the hospital. Sometimes scammers will also have someone pose as a police officer or doctor to try and lend credibility to the scam. Bottom line, you want to check and see if your family member is really hurt before agreeing to send, wire or give any money or information to the person on the phone.

Robocalls 

Some scammers are using robocalls to get the victim to say "yes" to a benign question like "are you there?" They record you saying yes, then use your voice signature to put charges on credit cards and the like.

Half the battle of not falling for these scams are knowing that they're out there and anyone can fall victim to them. The second is applying your own common sense:

  • If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.
  • Police departments, hospitals, the IRS, utility companies, banks and most large companies will not ask you for personal information over the phone. Nor can you get out of an arrest warrant or pay back IRS taxes by just paying money over the phone.
  • No legit utility worker, police officer, city worker, cable company employee or the like will mind waiting at your door for you to verify who they are. In other words, if you didn't ask the electric company to come out, no legitimate electric company employee is going to mind waiting for you to call the electric company and confirm they need access to your home.
  • You never have to give your personal information out to someone who calls you. If you think it is a legitimate call, you can always call back the company that called you and ask about it.
  • Follow the news. Most news organizations talk about specific scams when they're happening to people in the community. If you're aware of what's going on it makes it harder for you to be a victim.

Keep your cash, your valuables and your social security number. Follow this advice and you'll be better armed against the scammers. SeniorLiving.com goes more indepth on all these scams. You can see their article here.