WTVM Editorial 10/28/16: Warn the elderly - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

WTVM Editorial 10/28/16: Warn the elderly

(Source: WTVM) (Source: WTVM)

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - If you have elderly parents or friends, this is an especially important time to talk with them about phone scams.

Just last week in an unprecedented criminal takedown, the Justice Department arrested scores of people now accused of convincing 15,000 people to give up $300 million.

How did they do it?

The scammers made threatening calls, promising immediate arrest or deportation unless the victims agreed to pay them thousands of dollars by sending the scammers prepaid credit cards.

It sounds crazy, but too many people fell for it and lost big money. And many of the victims were elderly. We urge you to share this important information with your loved ones.

  • Instruct them to never, ever give personal information over the phone when someone calls them. 
  • If necessary, post a note by your parent's phone in large text reminding them to never share their social security or bank account numbers over the phone.
  • If you owe taxes, the IRS will have no trouble letting you know, by sending an official letter.
  • They never call you and demand payment.
  • Not all the victims were elderly.

But older people can be more trusting and are sometimes less likely to question a caller who sounds authoritative or who acts as if they know some personal information about them.

It's shocking that the government couldn't identify the criminals or bust these scams until the losses topped $300 million. It shouldn't have taken that long to stop it.

But it was a highly sophisticated criminal tangle of wire fraud, money laundering and clever impersonations of government agents which made it a challenging investigation.

So have the conversation about phone scams with your friends, neighbors, parents, and grandparents.

If the caller is unknown to them, tell them to just hang up.

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General Manager Holly Steuart brings two editorials a week to WTVM. If you would like to respond to an editorial, e-mail your response to hsteuart@wtvm.com or write to:

WTVM Editorial Committee
1909 Wynnton Road 
Columbus, GA 31906

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