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Seniors learn about scams

October 6, 2011

BLACKFOOT — Representatives from Idaho's Office of the Attorney General met with senior citizens in Blackfoot Wednesday to discuss current scams and to provide consumer protection materials geared to seniors.
Lonny Tutko and Kim Youmans from the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Attorney General came to the Bingham County Senior Citizen Center to address the senior population as part of an ongoing consumer outreach program.
"We believe the best prevention to consumer fraud is information," Tutko said.
He provided information about a variety of scams, including the grandparent scam, bank phishing scams, computer fraud, mortgage scams and work-at-home scams.
Tutko said a lot of people in Idaho have lost money through the grandparent scam, which typically involves a phone call from a criminal posing as the victim's grandchild. They say they are in trouble in another country and need their grandparents to wire money — but not to tell anyone.
Tutko said the best defense is to call the child's parents or their grandchild to make sure they are OK before sending money.
Bank phishing scams have also been popular recently, including fraudulent bank messages that instruct the recipient to provide their account number to reactivate their account. There has also been a Publishers Clearing House scam that asks for a fee to collect the prize — Tutko said the real Publishers Clearing House will never ask you to pay to claim your prize.
"Basically, if anyone calls you and asks for your bank account number, it's a scam," Tutko said.
A modification of the bank phishing scam involves a call from someone stating they are from Microsoft and that the caller's computer has a problem. They say they can fix your computer, but they gain remote access to the computer and then steal bank information or credit card numbers from the machine.
Another common scam involves a company that solicits homeowners to pay them to modify their mortgage. Tutko said most times the companies take the money and do nothing.
For more information, visit www.ag.idaho.gov or call the Consumer Protection Division's toll–free number, (800) 432-3545.
Tutko said for scams of a criminal nature, local law enforcement should also be contacted.

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