Attorney General Chris Carr Celebrates Older Americans Month

May 11, 2017

ATLANTA, GA – Attorney General Chris Carr, in recognition of Older Americans Month, is reminding older consumers how to identify and stop  scams before they start.   

“We are proud to celebrate Older Americans Month and pay tribute to their achievements, sacrifices and innovations,” said Attorney General Chris Carr. “We must also do all we can to protect those who are most vulnerable. As scam artists invent new ways to perpetrate crimes, our office also wants to utilize this month to urge all Georgians to avoid and report cons that target our older adult demographic.”

Commons scams that target older adults and tips to avoid them include:

Door-to-Door Home Repair Scams

Con artists may solicit consumers about doing unnecessary home repair work. Scammers ask for payment upfront and then either never do the work at all, leave work uncompleted or do careless work.

Potential “red flags” of a home improvement scam include:

  • Work is unsolicited, repairman goes door-to-door. He may show checks received from other neighbors as proof of his credibility.
  • Business is not listed in the local phone directory and/or contractor refuses to give out his address.
  • There is no written quote/contract.
  • Contractor only accepts cash as payment.
  • Contractor offers special introductory offers or a discount valid only for today.
  • Contractor insists that you pay in full before all work has been completed.
  • Small job expands into huge job, or additional problems are later “discovered”.
  • High-pressure sales tactics, scare tactics or threats.

Telemarketing Fraud

Many types of scams fall under this category. A few common ones are listed below:

Microsoft Tech Support Scam: The scammer, posing as a Microsoft representative, calls the consumer to tell him/her something is wrong with his/her computer but fixable through a payment of a few hundred dollars. 

  • Microsoft will never call you for this reason.  So if you get such a phone call, hang up immediately.
  • Never give out your financial or personal information over the phone.
  • Don’t click on pop-up windows; they may download malware onto your computer.  
  • Never give out your financial or personal information over the phone.

Grandparent Scam: The caller claims to be a friend of the person’s grandchild or the grandchild himself.  The caller then makes up an urgent scenario requiring that money be sent immediately, e.g. the grandchild is in jail and needs bail money or became ill while traveling in a foreign country and needs money to come home. To avoid this scam, it is advisable to first try to verify the whereabouts and welfare of the actual grandchild by calling his or her phone directly or contacting the parents.

Sweepstakes Scams

You are a winner, but you don’t recall ever entering the contest. This may sound obvious, but many people are so excited about winning that they don’t stop and wonder how their name could have been drawn.  And, even if you have entered a sweepstakes, keep in mind that the actual chances of winning are very slim. For example, the odds of winning the grand prize in the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes are 1 in 1.75 billion.

Red flags of a sweepstakes scam: 

  • You have to pay to receive your prize. Legitimate sweepstakes will NEVER require you to purchase anything or pay a fee in order to claim a prize. 
  • You are asked to wire money. Scammers love to use wire transfer services because it is virtually impossible to trace who received the money or for the sender to recoup any money after it has been sent.
  • You are asked to provide your bank or credit card account.  Scammers want access to your money. So they offer the convenient option to have your “winnings” deposited directly in your bank account.  Then they turn around and drain your account.  Never give out your financial account information to a stranger.
  • The letter announcing your win contains typos. Sweepstakes scams are often perpetrated by people outside of the United States. If you receive a prize notification containing many typos or which sounds like it was written by a non-English speaker, it is probably a scam.
  • The letter claims to come from a government institution. In order to look more legitimate, scammers may claim they are with a government entity, often inventing such agency names. The fact is, government organizations are NOT involved in awarding sweepstakes prizes.

Additional Consumer resources on a variety of issues are available on ConsumerEd.com regarding:

  • Buying a Car
  • Home Repairs
  • Identity Theft
  • Credit and Debt Issues
  • Consumer Rights