Security Scams

Hershey’s Mill Director of Security by Sally Shabaker

You may think Marc Fraser has little to worry about as Director of Security for our peaceful, bucolic community where the violent crimes taking place in large cities are practically non-existent. But you would be wrong. His biggest challenge is protecting Hershey’s Mill residents from telephone or email scams. Scams targeting seniors have become so prevalent that they’re now considered “the crime of the 21st century,” according to the National Council On Aging. Why? Because seniors are thought to have a significant amount of money sitting in their accounts. Although they’re considered a “low-risk” crime, scams which rob seniors of their money, identity, self-respect and peace of mind are devastating to many older adults.

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, American seniors have lost an estimated $2.9 billion in financial scams in the last decade. Marc estimates the amount of money from all reports of scams he has received from either Hershey’s Mill residents or from children whose parents have been scammed totals over $100,000. These are stunning figures that should alert all of us to the possible scams we may fall victim to. “I’ve received reports from over 20 residents in the Mill who have been targeted or have fallen for a scam,” says Marc. “There are probably more who have not reported anything to me or the police out of embarrassment. If you think you have been targeted, I urge you to notify the Westtown East Goshen police (610-692-9600) and notify Marc (610-431-4006) at once.”

There are all sorts of scams out there, but five types of telephone scams appear to be consistently targeting Hershey’s Mill residents. “I wish we could do more to prevent the problem, because once it occurs, the scammer is hard to trace and prosecute, and money is even harder, if not impossible to recover.”

BE ALERT TO SCAMS

  • Bench Warrant Scam
  • Grandparent Scam
  • Utility Company Scam
  • Prize Scam
  • Microsoft Phone Scam

Here’s the important bit: no legitimate IT security pro is ever going to call you in this way. For one thing, they can’t tell that your PC is infected. They’ve got your name from the phone book, or any one of the thousands of marketing lists on which your details probably reside. Basically, somebody is sitting in a room calling number after number hoping to find a victim. It’s not personal, but it is ultimately dangerous to your financial and technological health.

This is what tipped me off. I asked myself why a huge software computer company like Microsoft would use the telephone to handle a problem when it would be so easy for them to alert their users and fix the problem online. If you receive a similar call, hang up. It is not a legitimate call. If you continue the conversation, don’t provide any personal information such as credit card or bank details. But whatever you do don’t allow a stranger to guide you to a certain webpage, or instruct you to change a setting on your PC or download software. This scam preys on people’s insecurity about lack of tech knowledge. It is very easy to be a victim, and the best defense is sharing knowledge. It is much easier to put the phone down if you are forewarned.