Loudoun County Sheriff Office advises senior community to be wary of scams.
The following information was released from Loudoun County today:
Loudoun County, Virginia- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Those were the words of Loudoun Sheriff’s Investigators to senior citizens during a series of fraud awareness presentations.
Over the past week members of the Loudoun Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Unit held several presentations at area senior centers and retirement communities. The senior citizens were told that they are often the target of scam artists and were advised on how not to become a victim.
A case reported to the Loudoun Sheriff’s Office earlier this month sounded all too familiar. A Loudoun senior citizen was solicited by phone from a scam artist claiming she had won money in a sweepstakes. The group indicated she needed to pay a transaction to cover taxes. Fortunately, the woman did not fall for the scam. Many senior citizens, such as this potential victim, live on fixed incomes. Scam artists see senior citizens as potential victims as they may be looking for a way to help their financial situation. Most scam artists promise incredible bargains or quick money such as lottery or sweepstake winnings.
Other scam artists may promise to do work a senior’s home at a reduced price. The work is either poorly done, or the suspects demand more money from the victim then originally quoted. These crimes often go unreported. “The senior community is often a target to these types of crimes because they are less likely to report being a victim of fraud. Often they are ashamed or even unaware they are a victim,” said Sheriff Steve Simpson, who spoke at the fraud awareness presentations.
Loudoun residents are offered the following tips on how not to become a victim of a scam:
• Don’t buy from an unfamiliar company. Legitimate businesses understand that you want more information about their company and are happy to comply.
• Always ask for and wait until you receive written material about any offer or charity. If you get brochures about costly investments, ask someone whose financial advice you trust to review them. But, unfortunately, beware — not everything written down is true.
• Always check out unfamiliar companies with your local consumer protection agency, Better Business Bureau, state Attorney General, the National Fraud Information Center, or other watchdog groups. Unfortunately, not all bad businesses can be identified through these organizations.
• Obtain a salesperson’s name, business identity, telephone number, street address, mailing address, and business license number before you transact business. Some con artists give out false names, telephone numbers, addresses, and business license numbers. Verify the accuracy of these items.
• You must not be asked to pay in advance for services. Pay services only after they are delivered.
• Some con artists will send a messenger to your home to pick up money, claiming it is part of their service to you. In reality, they are taking your money without leaving any trace of who they are or where they can be reached.
• Never send money or give out personal information such as credit card numbers and expiration dates, bank account numbers, dates of birth, or social security numbers to unfamiliar companies or unknown persons.
If you believe you are a victim of a scam, please contact the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office at 703-777-1021.