Impostor Scams Net $328 Million

scamalertA girlfriend just shared how her mom, who is in good health and of sound mind, received a call that she (my girlfriend) had been kidnapped. They wanted her mom to immediately drive to a check cashing place and wire money for her release. Her mom tried to text and call on a second phone, by her daughter was in an appointment with her phone off.  Thankfully, her mom navigated it well but it was a quite a traumatic event. Her mom lives in a condo and kept the people on the phone while she went down to the concierge who called the police and helped. However, she was wondering if her mom was really of sound mind if she fell for this.

I confirmed to her that really smart people can be victims of this scam because the fraudsters are so good. In fact the FTC reported that the kidnapping scam is the top “Imposter Scam” for 2017 and cost Americans at least $328 million.

For those of us caring or concerned about loved ones that live alone, I hope you will consider how you can implement a call screening service or device to help eliminate these callers. I implemented this system in my own home and never answer an unidentified call at home or on my mobile phone.

As a Daily Money Manager, I work with older adults in their homes and one of the first things I do is implement a call screening solution. In metro-DC, I can implement Nomorobo which is free service from Verizon. The Nomorobo website can help you find out if you can get their free service in your area.

If you can’t get a service like Nomorobo, you can purchase a call blocking device like Sentry 2 that lets you blacklist numbers. It does require that you tag calls to the “blacklist” to block, and you can also add numbers and only get calls from those on your “whitelist”. It can fill the need but does require assistance to be effective.

Two other simple options include:

  1. Sign up for “Anonymous Call Rejection” with your local carrier. This service rejects calls from anyone that has blocked their caller ID information. It is usually something you can enable using *77 but varies by provider.
  2. Suggesting they never answer the phone if they don’t recognize the number.  A doctor, or friend will leave a message and they can easily call back

For many, the comfort of home and the costs can make aging in place the best choice. However, there are many things to consider to make sure our loved ones are safe. Advised. 

For more on this topic, check out this story:

How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of a Virtual Kidnapping Scam The Washington Post

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