KALIDA — There was $2.9 billion lost in 2009 to financial exploitation of older adults, and 13.5 percent of people admitted to falling prey to one or more scams the previous year, Becca Peckinpaugh, Putnam County Crime Victim Services employee, told a group of senior citizens Thursday.
A program titled “If It Sounds Too Good” was put on by Peckinpaugh at the Kalida-Union Township Library on how not to be a victim.
“Scammers play on emotions, and it is their full-time job and they will do anything to get a hold of the resources they want,” Peckinpaugh said.
She said the most common type of fraud occurs when scammers get access to a person’s credit card and banking information. The elderly also can be scammed by a grandchild stealing their credit card to pay for illegal drugs.
“Signs of scams are scammers putting pressure on the victim to act now or asking them to wire money and requesting personal information,” Peckinpaugh said.
She addressed the different types of scams that include computer repair scams, fake check scams and phishing and spoofing.
A computer scam is when a virus pops up on a computer and tells a person to call an 800 number and the caller can steal the person’s personal information off their computer.
The fake check scam is when the victim is sent a check by someone who says they accidentally wrote the check for too much.
“They ask you to take your share out of the check and then send on the rest of the money to another seller,” Peckinpaugh said. Both people are scammers and the victim could be responsible to pay the money back.
Phishing and spoofing is when a person calls pretending to be from an agency in order to get money or information.
The grandparents scam is calling and pretending to be a grandchild who was in a car accident and asking for money.
Types of identification thefts Peckinpaugh identified were stealing debit and credit cards, stealing bank account and Social Security numbers, mail theft and using your name to use your medical insurance.
She provided statistics and said 2/3 of victims of financial fraud experience an emotional cost. Of that group, half suffer severe stress, 44 percent suffer anxiety, 38 percent suffer difficulty sleeping and 35 percent suffer depression.
Prevention tips that were provided were keeping personal records locked up, shredding important documents and monitoring credit cards and bank accounts.
Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.