Q. As seniors who live in an independent living community, my husband and I are always worried about the latest scams and how to prevent them. What can you tell us?
A: You're smart to be vigilant, because it seems that there's always a new scheme brewing.
The Federal Trade Commission recently issued a warning that scammers, claiming to work for the Federal Trade Commission, are calling consumers and claiming that they have won a lottery or sweepstakes.
They just need to send money to pay for taxes and insurance. Don't do it!
The FTC never collects money directly from consumers. But the public may be fooled, because by using Internet technology, con artists can make it appear that they are calling from Washington, D.C., where the FTC is headquartered.
What's especially tricky is that the FTC's name may even be displayed on consumers' caller ID machines.
Here's how it works: Someone who claims to work for the Federal Trade Commission calls to inform you that you have won a lottery or sweepstakes. To receive the prize, all you have to do is pay the taxes and insurance.
The caller asks you to wire money or send a check for an amount between $1,000 and $10,000.
The caller might suggest that the FTC is supervising the giveaway. He or she might even use the name of a real FTC employee.
What should you do? Don't send money or account information, and immediately report the incident to the real Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
No matter how convincing the impersonation, you should never send money to claim a prize.
No FTC employee will ever call to ask you to send money. Legitimate sweepstakes companies won't either.
To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 877-FTC-HELP; TTY: 866-653-4261.
The FTC enters consumer complaints into the "Consumer Sentinel Network," a secure online database and investigative tool used by hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
Remember, Home Instead Senior Care hires CAREGivers who can help protect seniors from fraud by serving as a second set of eyes in a senior's home.
DeLauter is owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office serving Central Pennsylvania. For more information, call 522-6533 or visit www.homeinstead.com.