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United Cooperative Services News

Savvy Members Report Telephone Scam Attempts

Waging war against roving scam artists

United members are learning.

Similar to other consumers across the nation who are targeted by crooks each day, two United members called the co-op recently to report their receipt of the garden variety fraud attempts that attempt to scare consumers into making debit or credit card payments to avoid having their electricity turned off.

Thankfully, neither of the members fell for the ubiquitous calls this time, but it is difficult to understand how so many other people can still be duped and victimized by scam artists every day. After all, scams of all types are reported often and widely through a variety of mediums.

While some consumers have heeded precautions that help prevent such crimes, telephone scams have stayed on the rise and they successfully fleece unsuspecting consumers of billions of dollars every year.

Sadly, reports from security industry sources paint a grim picture—the problem is worsening. It is estimated that the top 25 consumer-oriented scams account for more than 36 million scams per month nationally, and that 86.2 million calls per month in the United States are phone scams. Crooks are slippery, and law enforcement agencies have a tough time finding scam artists, whether they score, or not.

More often than not, senior citizens are ideal prey for scam artists because of their vulnerabilities—including isolation, loneliness, generally trusting natures, relative wealth, and in some cases declining mental capabilities. However, swindlers never discriminate. People of all ages have fallen for a scammer’s threats or a high-pressure con. Still, crooks try very hard to identify and target older people because seniors can often be coaxed into providing personal information that provides financial access to thieves.

The point is this: thieves never stop trolling for naïve consumers. And the statistics seem to indicate tenacious thieves will find plenty of easy marks.

The variety of schemes hatched by swindlers depends on establishing some sort of trust with a potential victim. United recommends that members simply hang up and then call a legitimate number listed for the business the caller may have referenced, as well as local law enforcement. If a consumer doesn’t know or recognize the caller, a warning flag should go up. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true. If threats of any kind are made by a caller, members should hang up and call someone they know and trust to report the attempted fraud.