Attorney General’s Office Investigator Offers Seniors Advice For Avoiding Scams And Identity Theft

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FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM)-Each year, investigators say thousands of seniors become victims of scams and identity theft.

“I got a phone call and they pretended like they [were] from the IRS, and [it] just so happened that I was needing to prove something to the IRS,” Katy Phillips said.

The Prairie Grove resident said she was the target of a scam where callers posing as the IRS threaten you, asking for payment immediately.

“If I hadn’t have heard that on TV, well I would have probably listened to them and probably fell for it,” Phillips said.

“These scammers are very good at what they do,” investigator Stephen Svetz said. “They practice, practice and practice until their craft is perfect.”

Svetz works for the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office. On Thursday (Sept. 25), he spoke at the Clarity Pointe Assisted Living Center. 5NEWS asked him why the elderly are easy targets to these crimes.

“A senior that I was talking to really had the best answer,” Svetz said. “It’s that they’re from a different place. They’re from a generation where a handshake meant something, and it’s just not so anymore.”

Anna Morris went to the presentation because she has a friend targeted by what’s called the “Favorite Grandchild Scam.”

“Well they wanted $3,000 because they said her grandson had had a wreck,” Morris said.

She said a man was impersonating her grandson on the phone, but she soon found out there was never a car accident at all and was out $3,000.

“My advice on that is if the conversation comes in and it’s anything about a credit card and they ask for numbers, it’s a bogus call 100 percent,” Svetz said.

He said if there’s ever an issue with your bank account, your bank may call to notify you, but if they’re legitimate, they won’t ask for your information. They’ll simply mail you a new card. As technology advances, however, scam artists are also placing discrete card readers at ATM machines and gas pumps.

“We’re starting to see those pop up in Arkansas so I’m not saying don’t use a gas pump, I use one all the time, but make sure that you at least give where the card goes in a little yank, if it comes off in your hand, that’s a clue, you know, don’t use that,” Svetz said.

He urges consumers to always run your debit card as a credit transaction, unless you’re withdrawing cash from your bank ATM machine.

“Don’t let your card run away from you,” he said. Meaning pay restaurant tabs in cash if you can.

If you find yourself the victim of a scam, call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at (501)-682-2341.