It is called the "Grandparent Scam," and it comes in the form of a phone call. The caller poses as a grandchild who says they are in trouble and need help. The second type of scam is an unknown caller claiming the consumer needs a new Medicare card and it will be arriving in the mail.
West Virginia Attorney General, Patrick Morrisey said scammers will randomly dial people until they reach a senior citizen, letting the senior "fill in the blanks" by voluntarily stating the grandchild's name.
However, the caller tells the consumer they need their personal banking information first in order to put a direct deposit on the card.
"Sometimes, you're seeing scams of people wanting your personal identifiable information or saying that you need to get a new Medicare card; they just need some of your personal identifiable information," said West Virginia Attorney General, Patrick Morrisey.
With many of the scammers operating overseas, it can be tough to track them down.
Ten seniors at the Somerford House in Hagerstown fell victim to these scams.
"The one that was most prevalent to me was, she was at home before she came here, and somebody was coming to work on her house and they took money upfront, a large sum of money and never showed back up to do the work," said Somerford House sales counselor, Sheri Evans.
Morrisey wants to spread the word so many do not fall for it.
"Take the time, look and do a little bit of research on the Internet or call some friends, and then you can have a better sense as to whether something is a scam or not," added Morrisey.
Evans added, "They're vulnerable and for some of our seniors, their cognitive ability has some memory loss."
To avoid being scammed, Morrisey recommended consumers take the following precautions:
1) Stay calm and don't act out of a sense of urgency
2) Never give bank routing numbers or credit card numbers to someone calling you over the phone or reaching out to you via email
3) Be skeptical of anyone who calls and asks you to transfer money or use a pre-paid debit card.
4) Get contact information from the caller, including a name and a way to call him or her back
If you believe you have been scammed in this way, contact the West Virginia Attorney General's Office Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808 and file a report. Consumers can also contact their local police department as well.
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