Officials warn of scams that target elderly in Granite State
NASHUA — Identity theft results in about $47 billion in financial fraud each year, according to an expert who spoke Tuesday about various scams targeting the nation’s elderly population.
It is a huge industry that is taking advantage of senior citizens with generous and trusting hearts, said Derick Rill of the Federal Trade Commission.
Rill joined Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and James Boffetti of the state Attorney General’s Office at the Nashua Senior Activity Center to teach residents how to avoid financial scams by mail, phone, online or in person.
“This is a pretty big drag on the economy,” Rill said of the $47 billion lost each year to deceitful business practices, identity theft and scam artists, encouraging people to get educated about consumer protection.
According to information provided by the Federal Trade Commission, the best way to deter identity thieves is to safeguard personal information by shredding financial documents, protecting social security numbers, using non-obvious passwords and never clicking on links sent via unsolicited emails.
Other tips include inspecting credit reports annually, placing a fraud alert on credit reports and being cautious of unexpected credit cards, account statements or denials of credit for no apparent reason.
Identity theft can occur by stealing wallets and purses, hacking into email or online accounts, rummaging through garbage, pretending to be financial institutions or other agencies seeking personal information or skimming, a special device used while processing credit cards, according to a brochure issued by the FTC and distributed on Tuesday.
“People are trying to scam others across New Hampshire. It is a particularly heinous act,” said Shaheen, explaining that the scammers are preying on good, honest individuals. It is important to be vigilant about protecting yourself and others against these scams, and to educate family and friends about fraud, said Shaheen.
Many schemes targeting New Hampshire residents originate in another state or even outside the country, according to Boffetti.
The state Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau receives about 8,000 complaints a year, said Boffetti, saying they can range from generic scam artist reports, home heating scams, cell phone fraud, and cable company scams.
He specifically warned senior citizens of contractors who are hired to perform work on a home and seek money in advance of any labor.
“In New Hampshire, contractors are not regulated,” he said. “
We have prosecuted our fair share of contractors who disappear after getting paid. It happens all of the time.”
For more information and tips, visit www.consumer.gov/idtheft or www.doj.nh.gov/consumer
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