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By being alert we can prevent being hurt

About a week ago my husband and I received a computer email message from some casual friends. In it, the couple stated that they were in London and had been robbed of everything except their passports. They asked if we could send them enough money to get back home to the U.S.

The whole thing smelled fishy, so we called their house in Phoenix; the wife answered the phone and said the email was a fake. Someone had hacked into their computer.

Fraud among the senior class is a serious issue.

Not only can an individual be robbed of money, savings or identity, but becoming the victim of a fraudulent scheme can affect a person’s self-confidence, sense of well-being and trust.

We need to protect our assets as well as ourselves.

Being scammed by some unsavory con artist can often produce emotional reactions in seniors. Law enforcement agencies state that older adults are hesitant to report any losses due to fraud, primarily because they feel ashamed for being thought of as foolish. Then, too, some of us may fear that our relatives might assume that we are no longer capable of defending ourselves and our assets.

Keep in mind that fraud is a crime and should be reported to the police. There is nothing to be fearful or embarrassed about, but rather, it’s the right thing to do, to speak up and help the authorities and stop these criminals.

First of all, con men spend every waking hour planning on how to steal from others. It’s how they earn their living. A professional thief can outwit many of us.

Next, it isn’t always our fault that we’re a target for fraud. In my own experience, a repair man made a copy of my Visa receipt and used the numbers and my name to order cable TV for himself. Of course, he was caught.

The crooks of the world have figured out that seniors probably have a “nest egg” bank account, and excellent credit cards.

Scam artists know full well that members of the senior class grew up in an era when we were taught to be polite and trusting. They play on those qualities, especially if we appear to be lonely.

The National Association of Triads, in working with law enforcement to help keep seniors safe in their communities, has listed the five most common senior scams:

1) Prize or sweepstakes winner.

2) Home improvement fraud.

3) Phishing schemes by email.

4) Internet fraud using a website.

5) Identity theft.

Further, law enforcement says it is very important that we never give our birth date and Social Security numbers to strangers on the phone, at the door or on the computer.

It’s helpful to have a friend or relative to consult with if in doubt regarding an appeal for funds. Relief efforts in foreign countries can make their cause very appealing, yet some of them are bogus.

We can safeguard ourselves if we heed the warnings and refuse to be the victims of fraud.

Las Vegas resident Carolyn Schneider is the author of the book “Bing: On the Road to Elko” about her uncle, Bing Crosby and his 15 years as a Nevada cattle rancher. She may be reached at 702-240-8570 or artist71635@msn.com to order the book.

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