If you pick up your phone from an unknown number often, chances are, you have been contacted by some type of scam or sales call. It’s easy to hang up when it’s a pre-recorded message, but what do you do when the person on the other line is claiming to be calling from the IRS, US Citizenship and Immigration Services, or Medicare? What if they are calling from a well-known charity, such as Make-a-Wish? Your first instinct won’t be to hang up right away, so you might stay on the line to hear what they have to say. It may be harmless to do so, but what do you do when they say that you have a payment due, or asks for your Social Security number? You might feel pressured to give out your information, but always remember that scammers try to get your money in the quickest way possible. No one from the government, a charity organization, or even a tech support company should be calling you first and asking for your payment or any other personal information. In addition, if a caller says that he or she is simply calling to confirm your name and address – hang up immediately. These types of calls can come from a live phone operator or a recorded message to confirm your personal information.
Make sure to visit The Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Information blog page to read about the recent scam alerts. The following are a few tips from the FTC blog to keep in mind when you receive unknown phone calls.
- The federal government would contact you by US Mail, not by phone or email first.
- Federal agencies would not ask or demand your personal information over the phone.
- Scammers may threaten you to give up a payment information to pressure you.
- Do not trust a caller who asks for your bank account information or asks to wire money over the phone.
- Free prize or winner? It’s a scam.
- Hang up immediately if someone is calling to “just to confirm” personal information. Just because they recite your name and address, doesn’t mean that they are trustworthy.
Not all scams are preformed by people in the shadows, there are some people that will lie to your face in order to profit from your misfortune. This is what is happening to many of our countries veterans. Senior living facilities with incredibly high rents are luring in our nations veterans by promising to get them much needed VA benefits.
In one instance a WWII Veteran was told by a facility that he must move in in order to qualify for assistance. The manager of the facility paired him with a VA claim-filling “advocacy group” and he was guaranteed the acquisition of benefits. In this case the veterans income was far too high to qualify for benefits but not high enough to keep up with the cost of living in the facility. After a year and no awarded benefits he was broke and evicted from the facility.
To prevent this from happening to you, your friend or someone in your family keep an eye out for red flags. If a facility promises that you or your loved one WILL receive benefits use caution. No facility can promise this as each VA program is different. Generally these are the things they are looking for in order for you to qualify for benefits:
- Income guidelines. Often times other government benefits end up pushing you over the income limit.
- You must have served within certain years or be a certain age.
- For some programs, you must prove that the Veteran needs daily assistance with tasks such as bathing and dressing.
Also be on the look out for facilities that claim any of the following regarding benefits.
- Moving into a facility is required to qualify – This is not true a veteran can live with a family member or on their own and still qualify for benefits.
- Guaranteed Benefits upon move in. – This is also not true. There is no guarantee of benefits. You must qualify based on the criteria set forth by your specified VA program.
- VA “Advocacy Group” will fill out your benefit request for a small fee- THIS IS ILLIGAL. No fee can be collected to complete and submit claims on behalf of a veteran.
These scammers are targeting Bank owned mobilehome repos and vacant homes in your mobilehome community and are attempting to “rent” these homes to people in your area.
Here is how it is working. The scammer’s drive around your community and identify any vacant homes. They then place a “For Rent” yard sign not far from the community with a telephone number. When the potential resident contacts the scammers they give the residents the address and tell them to go take a look and are instructed that if they like it to call the scammers back. At which time they will arrange to “sign contracts” and collect the security deposit. They then meet the potential “renters” at an offsite location and collect the deposit. The “renter” is then told they can move in whenever and that the key will be delivered to them. Any attempt to contact the scammers after this point results in a text message letting the “renter” know they are stuck somewhere and that the key will be mailed. This of course never happens.
This scam has occurred in mobilehome communities in Chino, Ontario and Riverside. Please make sure your managers are aware of this scam and have them keep an eye out for two men who have used the names Samuel Fuentes (619)399-8477 and Jesse/Jesus Mendoza (760) 406-1617. They are driving either a 2010 blue Saturn SUV or Black Bronco. Please notify the Police immediately if you see these cars or any other suspicious activity in your park.
Scam artists often target homeowners and many times use well known businesses as a cover to gain your trust. The most recent scam that has been reported to us is one that involves a caller identifying themselves as an employee of the utility company Edison. They state that they have not received payment from you and that they will be sending someone out in the next three days to shut off your electricity. They then ask for your personal information.
DO NOT EVER PROVIDE ANYONE WITH BANK ACCOUNT INFORMATION, YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER OR CREDIT CARD INFORMATION OVER THE PHONE WITHOUT VERIFYING WHO THEY ARE!
A resident at a park in Santa Ana was contacted by one of these scammers and took the proper steps by
- Providing the caller NO personal information
- Contacting the Park Manager to inform them of the Scam
- Contacting the local police department (using the non-emergency number) to inform them of the scam attempt.
Keep yourself and your information safe!