Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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May 27, 2013

On the line: Don't get caught by these phone scammers


Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — "It's sad because the seniors feel some how they've done something wrong when they've been scammed," she added, "but these people are very good at what they do." 

There are a couple other scams currently being perpetrated upon Niagara's senior population, she added.

"There are companies going around switching peoples utilities," she explained, adding some say they are from the federal government and demand to see a utility bill. "All they do is look at your bill and they automatically switch you over to the utility company they're working for which turns out to be much more expensive. It costs thousands to switch back." 

Another scam, she said, is a call from a medical alert device company which explains that a family member has purchased an alert device for the elder and they insist on setting up an in-home appointment or get "billing information." 

State Attorney General Erie Schneiderman issued a warning this week about the medical alert robo-calling scam. The scammers seem to be operating from a 315 area code in Syracuse. 

"Unfortunately, the elderly are disaproportionately targeted by scam artists and are often the victim of fraud and abuse," he said. His office provides "Smart Senior Presentations," and has a booklet available to those who call his Consumer Helpline at 800-771-7755.

"We tell people, whether someone's at your door or on your phone, don't give out any information.  If they show a badge, call the police department and ask them for assistance," she said.

"We have permission from police department," she added. "If (suspicious) people from electric company come on your property, call the police. They will be arrested."

The attorney general has a help line that seniors can also call before doing business with anyone. That number is (800) 771-7755.

REPORT SCAMS Those who feel they may have been the victim of a scam or who wish to book a "Smart Seniors" presentation, can call the New York State Attorney General's Hotline at 800-771-7755.

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