Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon joined Mount Arlington Police Chief Keith Licata in educating residents of Nolan’s Ridge adult community on how to keep their money and personal information safe from scams.
One of the most common scams against senior citizens continues to be that of a person posing as a grandchild in trouble and persuading a grandparent over the telephone to send money via MoneyPak, Western Union or other methods, the Sheriff and Police Chief said.
Their talk April 17 in the clubhouse of the Mount Arlington community for people 55 years of age and older covered multiple other topics, including the Morris County Sheriff’s Project Lifesaver Program and the borough’s prescription pill drop-off box.
But how to keep finances safe was a focal point of the talk, part of the community’s Live, Laugh, Learn series for residents. Mount Arlington Councilman Stephen Sadow said half the borough’s population of 5,300 people are 50 years of age and older, and the borough is home to three age-restricted communities and one assisted-living facility.
Always beware of solicitations for money made over the telephone, including from people purporting to collect for law enforcement agencies, which don’t fundraise over the phone, the Sheriff said. Don’t even necessarily trust caller ID, as criminals can spoof the number to make it appear they are calling from a local bank, government office or police department.
“Always feel free to say no and hang up. It’s not rude, it’s shrewd,” Sheriff Gannon said.
Always lock home and car doors and never let a stranger into the house, even if they say they are there to check the gas meter or want to talk about a great price on repaving the driveway.
“Some of these things can be stopped at the door,” Sheriff Gannon said. He noted that scammers may work in pairs so that one person keeps the homeowner occupied while the second person steals belongings from rooms.
Be particularly cautious of solicitations for money or personal information sought through emails. Individuals should call their bank or credit card company to see if the email or communication is valid. Indications that emails are fraudulent include misspellings and inflated tones of urgency.
Don’t pay for products and services in advance and beware of “free gifts” that come with the caveat that taxes must be paid before the “free gift” is available, the Sheriff and Chief warned.
Another heartless ploy, they said, involves fraudsters monitoring obituaries and then calling the widow, widower or relatives to claim the deceased owed them money.
Chief Licata advised collecting as much information as possible during suspected fraudulent calls, including any phone numbers provided and personal identifiers about the caller, such as gender and name provided.
Scammers like to prey on older people, who may be lonely and vulnerable, and financial frauds can increase over holidays, the Chief and Sheriff said.
“They’re trying to get your heartstrings around the holidays,” Sheriff Gannon said.