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‘I’m calling about your car warranty’ scams continue

I’m calling about your car warranty! How annoying are these calls. We all get them. Did you know that scams are big business for those who scam to get our money. State Sen. George Borello’s office, the Chautauqua United Senior Council, the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office, the Center for Elder Law & justice and the Chautauqua County Office for Aging Services is presenting a community meeting July 15. This event will be at the Fluvanna Community Church in Jamestown. No registration is needed-simply come 10 a.m. to noon.

The New York state attorney’s office receives complaints on scams. The Federal Trade Commission lists the common scams that are reported regularly. Many are phone scams-like the extended warranty on your car. This is from their website at https://consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts

Imposter scams: A scammer pretends to be someone you trust — a government agency like the Social Security Administration or the IRS, a family member, a love interest, or someone claiming there’s a problem with your computer. The scammer can even have a fake name or number show up on your caller ID to convince you.

Debt relief and credit repair scams: Scammers will offer to lower your credit card interest rates, fix your credit, or get your student loans forgiven if you pay their company a fee first. But you could end up losing your money and ruining your credit.

Business and investment scams: Callers might promise to help you start your own business and give your business coaching, or guarantee big profits from an investment. Don’t take their word for it. Learn about the FTC’s Business Opportunity Rule, and check out investment opportunities with your state securities regulator.

Charity scams: Scammers like to pose as charities. Scams requesting donations for disaster relief efforts are especially common on the phone. Always check out a charity before you give, and don’t feel pressured to give immediately over the phone before you do.

Extended car warranties: Scammers find out what kind of car you drive and when you bought it so they can urge you to buy overpriced — or worthless — service contracts.

“Free” trials: A caller might promise a free trial but then sign you up for products — sometimes lots of products — that you’re billed for every month until you cancel.

Loan scams: Loan scams include advance fee loan scams, where scammers target people with a poor credit history and guarantee loans or credit cards for an up-front fee. Legitimate lenders don’t make guarantees like that, especially if you have bad credit, no credit, or a bankruptcy.

Prize and lottery scams: In a typical prize scam, the caller will say you’ve won a prize, but then say you need to pay taxes, registration fees, or shipping charges to get it. But after you pay, you find out there is no prize.

Travel scams and timeshare scams: Scammers promise free or low-cost vacations that can end up costing you a lot in hidden costs. And sometimes, after you pay, you find out there is no vacation. In timeshare resale scams, scammers lie and tell you they’ll sell your timeshare — and may even have a buyer lined up — if you pay them first.

People are vulnerable to scams because scammers are skilled at praying on their fears or hopes by using a bad situation/consequence like a warrant for your arrest, a grandchild needs help in jail, promises of a romantic relationship or some great prize like winning a lot of money.

Scammers get us to believe that there is an urgency, some deadline date, and you need to act immediately or something bad will happen to them or you! They rely on your compassion and play on our natural impulse to help. They also do not want to give you time to think too much about what they are asking you to do. Many times, they ask for gift cards, money or a bank check to pay the “fee” that will release your millions but most often, they are looking for your personal information, which is the key to all your financial resources.

A key thing to know nowadays- is do not trust the phone number coming up on your caller ID! Scammers have a trick called “spoofing” that allows them to display a phone number that looks like a local phone number. It is always a good practice to let a call go to voicemail/the answering machine. This way you can listen and decide if it is someone, you need to call back. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) advises

1) Never pay to collect a prize.

2) Don’t let yourself be rushed.

3) Tell people you know about it.

4) Tell the FTC about it. Report scams at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).

As you are reading this, you may think that I would not be that gullible but it happens to ordinary people every day! However, I am here to tell you, scammers are smart! The best way to defend yourself is to get information, keep up on the latest scams and report scam contacts you receive. This helps shut the scam down. Senator Bordello’s office, the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s office, the Center for Elder Law and Justice, the Chautauqua United Senior Council and the Chautauqua County Office for Aging Services are presenting a community meeting July 15 from 10 a.m. to noon at Fluvanna Community Church located at 3363 Fluvanna Ave Jamestown NY 14701. No registration is required.

The Chautauqua County NY Connects program can provide Information and Assistance on scams and get you to the place to report them to authorities. There are NY Connects programs located with the Office for Aging Services (OFAS) and the Southwestern Independent Living Center (SILC). You can reach NY Connects by phone: 716-753-4582 or 800-342-9871 email: ccnyc@chqgov.com Southwestern Independent Living NY Connects at 716-661-3010 or 716-490-7561. There is an online resource tool called the NY Connects Resource directory as well at www.nyconnects.ny.gov. We are here for you and can connect you to assistance.

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