Scam targets seniors on Big Island

The Hawaii County Office of Aging has issued a scam alert warning residents of a telephone caller who is targeted elderly residents in an attempt to get their social security information.

According to a AARP news release, the caller says he's a representative of the Office of Aging and offers a "benefit" in return for personal financial information. He also says that he obtained their phone number from AARP.

"We want to assure the public that AARP does NOT share its members' personal information with anyone – including name, address, phone numbers or emails," said AARP Hawaii State Director Barbara Kim Stanton. "While we're unfortunately seeing an increase in the number of scams targeting seniors, it's important for Hawaii residents of all ages to take reasonable precautions to guard against being victimized."

Tips for Avoiding Telephone Fraud

1. Don't Call Me – The first rule of telemarketing safety is to ignore pleas and pitches of anyone who calls you uninvited, including sales people, charities and even companies with whom you already do business. You have no way to confirm they are who they say they are. Don't rely on your caller ID, either. That can be faked.

2. Give Them Nothing – Fraudsters are hunting for information. Your best defense is to tell them nothing. If they try to confirm your name, don't tell them. If they ask if your spouse is home, don't reply. If they want to verify your address, hang up. Any bit of information you give to scammers, including even your name, can be a tool they use to part you from your money or otherwise harm you.

3. I'll Call You – If the callers insist they have to speak with you — for example,  they are from your bank and need to give you important information — tell them you will call them directly. At this point, fraudsters will often offer a phone number for you to call as proof they are who they say they are. Don't believe them. Instead of accepting the phone number they offer, you're much safer looking up the number independently — in the Yellow Pages or on the Internet. If the caller says he's with a company that you're already doing business with — such as a utility or phone company — you can also call the number on the monthly billing statement

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