MONTGOMERY COUNTY, PA — Law enforcement agencies Montgomery County are warning residents about numerous scams targeting senior citizens around the region.
The scams have increased in frequency with recent weeks and months.
Here’s a list of common scams, according to the Upper Providence Township Police Department:
Tech support scams
“Tech support scammers tell victims their computers have problems or viruses that they can help resolve,” police say. They then make money by asking victims to pay for services that aren’t needed. Sometimes, these scammers call people directly, warning about ‘computer problems,’ but the most common way tech support scammers connect with victims is online.”
“On certain websites, pop-up warnings may appear that notify users of a virus or security issue on their computers. Though the message sounds urgent and may use official-looking logos, it’s just a way to trick the user into making contact and sending money. Often, tech scammers claim they are from a well-known company like Microsoft or Apple.”
Legitimate businesses will never ask for these details.
“In family imposter scams, fraudsters pose as a loved one by creating an online profile that looks like them or hacking personal emails or social media accounts,” police note. “They will often claim that an emergency has left them in desperate need of money and request an immediate transfer of funds. If a family member is asking you to send them money online, it’s important to vet the person you’re talking to and ask them questions only your loved one would know.”
“Scammers bank on your fear and anxiety, but if you take a moment to call your relative directly, you can confirm if they actually need your help.”
“Social Security imposters may tell victims that their Social Security number (SSN) has been linked to criminal activity and/or suspended,” authorities warn. “The scammer will claim they can reactivate the number once the victim confirms their SSN. Other Social Security scams may tell victims their benefits are eligible for an increase and request that they confirm their name, date of birth and SSN. Both of these approaches are simply ploys to gain access to personal information that can be used to raid a victim’s financial accounts.”
Real SSA agents would never ask for your number over the phone, nor warn of arrest in this manner.
Online shopping scams
“While the internet has become many consumers’ primary means of shopping, it’s also become home to scammers posing as online retail stores. Sometimes these websites will appear legitimate, and the domain name may even be a slight modification of a well-known brand. Consumers are lured into these sites by their low prices, but the products they advertise are often drastically different from what’s received — if the buyer gets anything at all. It can be hard to identify online shopping scams. But be wary if an online merchant asks you to pay in an unconventional way, like with a money order or wire transfer. You can also weed out a phony retailer by searching for reviews.”
“Romance scams have become increasingly common in recent years, thanks to the growing popularity of online dating,” police said. “Typically, a romance scammer will create a fake profile on dating sites or social media, then reach out to vulnerable people and develop a relationship through chatting or texting. Scammers generally make excuses for why they can’t meet in person. COVID-19 facilitated these excuses for scammers; the FTC cited that some scammers said they were unable to meet due to a COVID-19 test. At some point, romance scammers ask their victims for money.”