LEWISTOWN - Pennsylvania State Police are warning those age 65 and older to not fall victim to a number of scams targeting senior citizens.
Police said Pennsylvania residents are target for a wide variety of scams, cons and other crimes and that senior citizens comprise a significant percentage of the state's population. Even so, they make up a disproportionately large number of victims. Seniors are targeted for many kinds of consumer fraud, especially home improvement, financial exploitation, telemarketing and sweepstakes, police said.
Scam artists engaging in identity theft, telemartketing and sweepstakes frauds have targeted this group, because seniors are often vulnerable to their pitches, police said.
Police said telemartketing and sweepstakes fraud are not independent problems and that many times overlap. The sweepstakes scam is one of the most prevalent types of telemarketing fraud. Other types include foreign lotteries, investments and travel promotions.
Police said over the weekend, a trooper responded to a reported scam in Centre County involving prepaid credit cards. The victim was told she won $3 million and a BMW. She was then told to purchase prepaid credit cards to pay back taxes. The victim was then re-contacted after purchasing multiple $500 cards and asked to provide card numbers. The cards were then drained of all the prepaid money, in total of approximately $18,000.
To avoid falling victim to a scam such as this, police recommend the following:
Don't pay for a free prize. Free means free. If a caller tells you the payment is for taxes on the prize, he or she has violated federal law.
Never give out your credit card information over th phone unless you are certain you are dealing with a reputable firm.
Refuse to be rushed into anything. The more a caller tries to hurry you into buying or sending money, the more likely he or she is a criminal.
Call the police to report the incident immediately. Never be too embarrassed to report that you've been victimized. Pennsylvania State Police may be reached at: Lewistown barricks-320-1010; Huntingdon-(814) 627-3161; Newport-567-3110 and Selinsgrove-(570) 374-8145.