Scam Prevention Presentation To Be Offered Locally Next Week
A presentation aimed at helping senior citizens avoid falling prey to scams will be held next week in Jamestown.
Consumer Paralegal Steve Dahlberg and Attorney Nicole Parshall from the non-profit agency The Center for Elder Justice New York will be hosting a scam prevention presentation at the Jamestown Hotel on Wednesday at 10 a.m. Dahlberg and Parshall work under the Consumer Protection unit of the New York Department of State.
“We think it would be a great service to Jamestown- area seniors to hear about this,” Dahlberg told The Post-Journal.
This presentation comes on the heels of the recent hacking at the consumer reporting company, Equifax. Although, what happened at Equifax wasn’t necessarily a scam, it still falls under the umbrella of identity theft.
Dahlberg and Parshall have given presentations about scam prevention before but this will be the first time the pair will be in Jamestown. Typically, the duo focus their presentations toward senior citizens at senior centers.
The scam prevention presentation will focus on phone, mail and Internet scams that target senior citizens. The presentation will detail financial scams and those running certain scams who tend to target senior citizens.
“We just explain why seniors are vulnerable to the scams and we go into the types of scams that target them,” Dahlberg said.
“Such as phone scams, mail, Facebook even, and then we go into what (seniors) can do to protect themselves.”
Dalhberg didn’t have clear numbers on how many people in the area fall victim to these types of scams. However, he said close to 40 percent of the audience typically has a story about being scammed.
Chautauqua County Sheriff Joe Gerace, who does his own scam prevention presentations locally, said that this year, alone, the Sheriff’s Office has investigated 106 cases related to fraud. Gerace mentioned that the Sheriff’s Office receives hundreds of phone calls annually in which victims are advised to end communication with the scammers.
“Scam artists are called artists for a reason,” Gerace said. “They are very good at what they do and they’re constantly changing their tactics.”
According to the New York Department of State Consumer Protection, common scams include IRS scams, ATM skimmers, debt collection scams and college fund scams, among others. The state noted that millions of people are victims of scams totaling billions of dollars taken.
One of the most common scams that Dahlberg and Gerace talked about is the “grandparents scam.” This is a scam where the scammers persuade the said grandparents into thinking their grandchild is some how in trouble and in need of money. Dahlberg used an example of someone calling a grandparent under the guise of foreign authorities. The scammers then tell the grandparents their grandchild was arrested in a foreign country and he grandchild is in need of bail money. Usually, the scam artist will mention that the grandchild doesn’t want his or her parents to find out so the grandparents do not typically tell anyone.
Dahlberg said these scammers either utilize fear and excitement as a tool to trick senior citizens. Gerace added to this theory and said scammers also use greed and love as a weapon.
With the recent hacking at Equifax many people’s personal information was left compromised. Senator Kristen Gillabrand condemned these recent events and called on the Federal Trade Commission to review data security at three major consumer reporting agencies, including Equifax. Gillabrand’s office shared a letter that was sent to Maureen K. Ohlhausen, acting chairmen of the FTC.
The letter noted that 44 percent of the country has been affected by the Equifax breach, while 209,000 people had their credit card information stolen.
Gerace, meanwhile, said education is key in order to falling prey to a potential scam. He said there is no reciprocity or jurisdiction in foreign countries for local authorities to pursue criminal action.
“Our biggest defense is education,” he said. “The more education the better,” he said.
To find out more about Dahlberg and Parshall’s non-profit organization go to Elderjusticeny.org. The presentation is free and will be hosted at Hotel Jamestown,110 W. Third St.