Siskiyou County and other jurisdictions have seen an increase in the number of frauds or “scams” against elders, which has gained the attention of a multi-agency organization in the county known as “SA6,” according to a press release from the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office this week.

Siskiyou County and other jurisdictions have seen an increase in the number of frauds or “scams” against elders, which has gained the attention of a multi-agency organization in the county known as “SA6,” according to a press release from the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office this week.

Fraud schemes have also been perpetrated lately under the guise of calls claiming the Social Security Administration is suspending your Social Security account due to an irregularity or misuse of your account. Do not return these calls and report them to your local law enforcement agency. Deal directly with your local Social Security Administration office on any account issues. One elderly local resident was recently targeted by an acquaintance he knows and allowed to stay in his home to assist him. The woman absconded with about $15,000 from the elderly home owner until he discovered his credit cards and checks were stolen from his home. This illustrates the need to use caution when you admit people to your home. Always safeguard essential documents and cards. Frequently check account information to detect fraud quickly so it can be reported and mitigated at the earliest opportunity.

Another elder was the victim of a scheme from an organization claiming to represent law enforcement organization, which was soliciting money on the telephone and via mailers sent to his home. A check by the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) could not find the organization and it was believed to have been a fraudulent attempt to obtain money from the victim. Scams related to income taxes and Internal Revenue Service imposters are also a recurring theme. The elderly, while targeted frequently by scam artists, are not the only victims of these imaginative and diabolic schemes. This informational news release, while geared towards the elderly, should be considered a warning to by all citizens of Siskiyou County.

The Siskiyou Alliance Against Abuse of Aging and At Risk Adults, better known as SA6, is comprised of county agencies and other government organizations formed to combat elder abuse and related crimes against dependent adults. SA6 is made up of Adult Protective Services, law enforcement, home health agencies, hospitals, public guardian, private community service organizations, public health agencies, and mental health agencies. SA6’s goal is to prevent, identify and respond to crimes or abuse, neglect, or exploitation perpetrated against elders or dependent adults, including fraudulent schemes and specializes in leveraging subject matter experts and strategies with which to provide a broad range of services for the elderly and dependent adults. According to a recent survey conducted by True Link Financial, older Americans are criminally defrauded of $12.76 billion of their hard-earned dollars annually.

According to Sheriff Jon Lopey, a SA6 member, “I hope all elders and others read this summary of typical scams because you will be better able to protect yourself from the people who perpetrate them. Understanding the type of scams used and how to counteract them should prevent you from becoming a victim and together, we can put these scam artists out of business.”

For example, a tech support scam involves an elder receiving an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be with Microsoft or Windows tech support, who often claim there is a virus detected on a computer they own. In order to protect their data, the caller will asked to access a particular website and follow instructions and when they do so, “malware” is installed that allows the scammer to steal usernames and passwords, hold data for ransom, or, even use webcam to spy on the victim. This scam, according to Microsoft, was perpetrated against 3.3 million people in 2015 and cost consumers $1.5 billion (one American duped out of an average of $454 nearly every 10 seconds). What do you do to protect yourself? Hang up the phone. Microsoft and their partners do not make unsolicited phone calls. It is also suggested by experts that you never, ever click on links in unsolicited emails from “Microsoft” or in pop-up ads promising to speed your computer. It is also suggested that Windows 10 or the latest version of OS X be downloaded to your computer.

Another common scam is the “silent call.” The phones rings and you pick it up but there is no response. It is a new type of “robo-call” – an automated computer system making tens of thousands of calls to build a list of citizens to target for theft. If you haven’t already done so, ask your phone company to put caller ID on your landline. Screen your calls and don’t pick up if the number is unfamiliar.

A scam that is very common in Siskiyou County is the “IRS Imposter” call. According to AARP, this is currently the #1 fraud perpetrated against elders. Someone claiming to be from the IRS typically phones you and leaves a voice mail message saying you owe back taxes and threaten that, unless funds are wired immediately, legal action will be taken against you. Elders are often threatened with arrest. Sometimes scam artists will claim there is a refund check waiting and the scam artist will ask for private, identifying information that is used to steal your identity and often times purchase items in your name after obtaining a credit card with your name and data. IRS imposters often provide badge numbers and return phone numbers and if a return call is made, the person answering the phone will identify themselves as an IRS agent. What should you do? Do not return a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS. The real IRS communicates with a taxpayer via the U.S. Postal Service. If in doubt, call the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040.

Another common scam is the “Cancer Rip-Off.” Last year, the Federal Trade Commission charged four national cancer charities (Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services, The Children’s Cancer Fund of America, and the Breast Cancer Society) with defrauding consumers of $187 million. Sometimes individuals claim to be cancer victims and attempt to solicit donations on-line or through various communications’ media. Before contributing to any charity, check out its rating on “” Avoid giving cash to door-to-door solicitors and refrain from giving your credit card number to solicitors over the phone. Ask for additional information about the charity. Legitimate organizations will not mind mailing you additional information.

Chip cards are being used for credit cards, which help protect your personal data; however, scam artists have been known to contact elders and other victims via email and request personal and financial information or, refer you to a website that has a malware-laced link in order for you to activate your new card. The scam artist may pretend to represent legitimate companies such as American Express and some even use legitimate logos and may have links to review privacy policies and other official looking links. No credit card company will email or call you to verify personal information. Normally, transactions are handled via the U.S. Mail. If unsure, simply call the number on the back of your credit card and ask if the company is attempting to contact you.

Faith-based dating websites are also being used by scam artists to target unsuspecting elders and other victims. Before getting involved with anyone on-line, use Google or “” to research the person. Their address can also be viewed on-line with Google Maps. Finding “no result” could be a warning sign. Remember, legitimate people will not ask for money from people they do not know on-line.

Another common scam is medical identity theft. Although you cannot typically be held liable for items fraudulently purchased by others, scam artists often incur costs that elders or others are charged with for bogus tests, prescription drug purchases, or even operations. Never surrender Social Security, Medicare or health insurance numbers to anyone you do not know and trust. Sometimes free health care checks at retirement homes, shopping malls, or fitness clubs can be used as venues for collecting information that is used fraudulently later. Avoid providing a photocopy of your cards and don’t sign blank insurance claim forms. Be careful when purchasing prescription drugs or other health-related items on-line.

Another despicable scam is the “grieving widow scam.” Scammers often scan obituaries for prey and then pretend to be a bank official to trick an unwary and vulnerable surviving spouse out of their money. If faced with a death in the family, ask a trusted family member to temporarily handle financial responsibilities during the grieving process. Have that person follow-up with any suspicious phone calls or emails. It is a sad truth that many con artists target the elderly while grieving to prey on their emotional vulnerabilities.

Gift voucher fraud schemes are becoming more common. This rip-off involves unsolicited emails from fake McDonald’s, Subway or other vendor or retailer offering free gift cards if you click a link to activate it. This is often a “phishing scam,” meaning the perpetrator is either trying to install malware on your computer or gather personal information to complete an on-line questionnaire. Never click a link in an unsolicited email or divulge personal information, no matter how attractive the offer sounds. Google searches often reveal these scams. For example, “McDonald’s gift card scam” will provide a warning to such scams being used in your area or region.

Normally, scam artists will target you in various ways. Data purchases are one method. Some scammers actually purchase phone numbers from companies that sell data. They will often use legitimate tactics to cheat you out of your hard-earned money. Often times, “sucker lists” are bought, sold, traded or stolen among scammers – these lists contain names of victims previously cheated by scan artists. Scam artists will often masquerade as a consumer group or law enforcement official and trick you into thinking they’ll help get your money back – normally for a fee. Many times, scam artists use information you voluntarily provide. For example, a scam artist will use your personal information that you provide when entering giveaways or sweepstakes or when filling out surveys. Often times, these schemes target elders. Remember, if the scheme seems too good to be true, it probably is. Remember to safeguard your personal data and never give your personal data to anyone online, over the phone, or in person unless you know the person that you are dealing with and even then, “trust but verify.”

Other warning signs of fraud could include a bank account that is overdrawn or unusual activity on your credit card. Make an inquiry if you are expecting mail that does not arrive, especially those related to financial matters. If bills are still showing an unpaid status after paying a bill, conduct an inquiry to ensure your mail is not being intercepted or stolen. If credit card applications or loans are inexplicably denied, it could be an indicator of fraud or illegal withdrawals perpetrated by another person. Reduce the items you carry in public such as extra credit cards, Social Security cards, or checkbooks. Consider carrying a copy of your Medicare card with all but the last four digits blackened out. Shred, tear or cut-up mail and documents that contain your identifying information. Place mail with bills to be paid at the post office. It is usually better to pick-up bank or credit union checks at your financial institution if possible.

Often times elders are more vulnerable if they reside alone but there are a few simple steps that can be taken to reduce their vulnerability. Never talk to strangers on the telephone. Use an answering machine, voice mail, or Caller ID to screen calls. Never give any portion of your credit card, bank account, Social Security information or other important identifiers to a caller. Sign up for the National DO NOT CALL Registry for both your home and cell phones by calling 1-888-382-1222. Consider changing your phone number if you have been victimized in the past by scam artists. Avoid participating in mail or Internet sweepstakes, lottery, surveys, and contests. If you win something, you should NEVER have to pay fees, taxes, or costs of any kind before receiving your winnings – that is the law.

Avoid falling prey to a contractor advising you that you can obtain a great deal on a home repair and verify anyone calling you or showing up on your door step purporting to be a city or county official or representative from a utility company, especially if they want to inspect your water heater, furnace, or back yard. Legitimate public utility workers or officials will not hesitate to provide credentials, which can be verified by calling the company or public agency involved in the visit. Don’t give any money to vendors that you do not know, always get at least three bids for work, require contractors to use a written contract that lists materials, costs, and completion date, and don’t allow a stranger in your home. Normally, a city or county inspector does not go door to door. Avoid engaging in conversations with people offering you loans to pay off debts and never sign a contract or documents without a thorough review and verification. Mortgage fraud and investment fraud are common and major transactions should only be conducted through reputable financial institutions you know and trust. It is prudent to provide legal advice as well.

Be cautious and consider consultation with authorities if your caregiver, financial Power of Attorney, relative, neighbor, or anyone suggests you made a change in your assets, your investments or insurance and always get two or three other opinions from other relatives or advisors. Again, never sign documents you have not thoroughly read and understand. Receive and review copies of all bank and financial statements on a regular basis.

According to Teri Gabriel, Executive Director of PSA 2 Area Agency on Aging, “SA6 and our partner members are working hard to curtail the fraud, abuse, and neglect perpetrated against the elders and dependent adults of Siskiyou County. The scams described in this news release are only a sampling of the many schemes perpetrated against seniors and dependent adults of Siskiyou County but should give you a good idea how to combat this real and all too common threat. Elders built and many defended this nation, and the freedoms and prosperity we enjoy today is largely because of our seniors. They should be able to live their lives without fear of losing their hard-earned earnings and other assets to unscrupulous scam artists. We hope this article will help energize, protect, and empower them to do just that.”

Refrain from giving your identifying information over the telephone or electronic device and verify the organization’s authenticity before donating. Contact your local law enforcement agency if you have any concerns or do not know how to proceed. Legitimate organizations will always be willing to mail you information or provide a safe and secure means with which to donate to the cause. Unless you are dealing with an organization or representative you are familiar with, use caution until you reasonably know that the donation is going to a legitimate cause and organization.

If you suspect an elder or dependent adult is being abused or victimized, contact Adult Protective Services at (530) 841-4200 (normal business hours) or (530) 842-7009 after hours. The threat of abuse or exploitation can also be experienced in assisted living facilities and skilled nursing homes. These vulnerable elderly adults are every bit at risk as those in the community. For them there is the Ombudsman program to investigate and advocate on their behalf. If you know of or suspect abuse in a long-term care facility contact the Ombudsman at (530) 229-1435 or you may contact the State Crisis Line @ (800) 241-4034.

Should you suspect a crime or scam is being perpetrated against you, you may also contact the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office 24-hour Dispatch number of (530) 841-2900, or, if you reside in a local city with a police department, call that agency. If it is an emergency abuse situation or a crime in progress, dial 9-1-1.