West Virginia has one of the most aged populations in the country. The estimated percentage of our population aged 65 or over increased from 16% in 2010 to 18.8% in 2016. This trend is expected to continue through 2030. That is why protecting our elderly from abuse, neglect and scams is vitally important. Our seniors worked hard to help West Virginia reach her full potential. We cannot forget them at their time of need.
The Attorney General is deeply committed to protecting West Virginia seniors from unscrupulous businesses, substandard care providers, and con artists. The Attorney General’s Office collaborates, litigates, and educates to protect seniors. Below you will find examples and explanations of our top complaints affecting West Virginia seniors. If you, a loved one, a friend, or a neighbor may be the victim of elder fraud or abuse, please contact our Office immediately using the hotline number listed above.
Contact us via email at HelpForSeniors@wvago.gov
There will be times when these scammers become aggressive. Here are some tips on how to handle the discussion.
No matter the time of year, it is important to have your power activated to keep your home temperature controlled and comfortable. If you ever receive a call from someone claiming to be from a utility company, like AEP, who says that there is a technician on his or her way to shut off your power or other utility and they demand payment immediately, this could be a scam. It is best to proceed with caution in these situations.
If you receive a call, letter, or email claiming that you have won a sweepstakes or prize always proceed with caution and be sure to do your research. Make sure to ask which company the caller is affiliated with. Representatives of legitimate contests will clearly identify their company and should be able to provide terms and conditions of their contest.
If you are ever instructed to pay the fees for taxes, insurance, processing, or delivery expenses in order to receive this prize, it is likely a scam and you will never receive what you are promised. This payment is commonly requested in the form of gift cards or the scammer will ask you to transfer money via Money Gram or Western Union.
The grandparent scam is one of the easiest to fall for because for most grandparents there is nothing they wouldn’t do for their grandchildren. Be wary any time you receive a call from someone claiming to be your grandchild or other close relative requesting money. As a part of this scam he or she will claim that they are in trouble. For example, he or she went out of town for a wedding or a funeral, had too much to drink, and now they have been thrown in jail with DUI charges.
The scammer will likely know multiple family member’s names and there is a chance that a scammer will go so far as to put “their attorney” or a “police officer” on the phone to make it seem more convincing if you seem suspicious. One sign to watch out for is if they ask for bail money in the form of a gift cards or a money transfer.
Criminals can “spoof” phone numbers of family members, which means it could appear that the call is coming from your family member’s phone number. This does not necessarily mean that the call is coming from his/her phone.
Technology has come a long way in the past few decades and as a society we have a tendency to upload or save a great deal of personal information on our devices. There are criminals looking to take advantage of those who may be not be as “tech-savvy” to try to obtain some of that personal information.
You may receive a phone call or a pop-up on your computer from someone claiming to be a technician from businesses such as Windows, Microsoft, or Apple. They will claim that your computer has a virus or security breach and offer to log-in to your computer to correct the issue. They may be asking for money, computer passwords, personal information, and/or may damage computers with malicious software.
With the expansion of social media and the ability for more people to connect online, more people are finding romantic relationships through online programs and social media. This is also an easy way for scammers to steal your money and personal information for exploitation.
Fake profiles are becoming very common. These fake profiles are made by criminals wishing to lure the victim. They use fictional names, or take the identity of someone who can be trusted (i.e. military personnel, nurses, or professionals working abroad). They express strong emotions to the victim in a short period of time. They use emotions to gain the victim’s trust. Shortly into a relationship the scammer will begin to ask for money. They will also ask for favors such as picking up money for him or her and sending the money to family or friends.
With the way healthcare has changed over the past decade it has become confusing. Criminals are taking advantage of the confusion. There are a few things to watch out for when someone contacts you in regard to your health insurance.
Some criminals may attempt to contact you by phone or mail posing as your health insurance provider. Others may request payment for a doctor visit or offer a “deal” on unnecessary medical equipment. It is important to not panic or be pressured by these calls. Always verify the credentials of whoever you are talking to on the phone and any paperwork you receive in the mail. Remember that you can always hang up and call the number on your policy paperwork if you feel uncomfortable.
The number of Medicare beneficiaries in the United States grows every day. With those growing numbers, Medicare scams are on the rise. There are a few different techniques that scammers use in order to gain the victims’ sensitive personal information.
The most common ways that these criminals try to trick their victims include the new card scheme. This involves criminals posing as representatives notifying Medicare patients they are issuing new cards. In order to get the new card, they will request that the victims provide identifying information such as social security information, Medicare policy or card number, and banking account numbers. Scammers will also claim the victim is entitled to money back due to changes by Medicare or private insurers. This refund scam can leave any beneficiary exposed. Scammers will often pose as a doctor’s office, hospital, state or local health agency or even a phony agency. They use a spoofing technique to change the caller ID screen. These posers offer complimentary checkups used as a way to get personal information. Never trust a caller ID. If you are unsure if a call is real, please hang up and check with Medicare or your supplemental insurance provider.
There are many people who like to remodel their homes once they are transitioning into their senior years to make their homes as comfortable as possible. Sometimes criminals will prey on seniors looking to remodel for a good price by posing as a contractor who offers a “deal”. There are others who will ask for a large deposit and will never show up to perform the proper work. The best way to keep yourself protected against contractor scams is to make yourself as informed as possible. Be sure to always check credentials and do your research. Be mindful that a scam could easily happen to any homeowner.