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Seniors: On guard against scams

February 28, 2013
By SCOTT McCLOSKEY - For The Times Leader , Times Leader

WHEELING - Senior citizens can become easy victims to scam artists. So how can seniors educate themselves about dealing with phone and online scams?

Dave Shelene, field representative with the West Virginia Auditor's Office, said if a senior wants to be better informed about the countless number of phone or internet scams, they can call the Federal Trade Commission at 877-322-8228, or they can contact the West Virginia Auditor's Office at 888-724-3982.

Shalene said scam artists target seniors because many are trusting and they're easily accessible at their homes. Many have also been able to save up a nice nest egg of money over the years. He said more and more seniors are also taking advantage of social networking, which can make them easy prey to scam artists.

"Internet scams are targeting seniors like crazy," said Shalene, who contends many senior centers provide banks of computers for seniors to gain access to the Internet. He said social networking for seniors is "absolutely growing today." He said he recommends seniors use "site blockers" such as "Cybersitter" to help protect themselves from online scams.

Shalene offered three tips for seniors:

Never give information out over the phone or online to somebody you don't know, or tell them you live alone.

If you think you have been the victim of a scam, call local law enforcement agencies immediately and call government agencies like the Auditor's Office or the FTC to follow up on a complaint.

Investigate before you invest. If you're not familiar with a broker, it is a good idea to have them checked out to make sure they are registered with the state before investing money.

Shalene said seniors can also file a complaint online with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at He said this simply is the Federal Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National White Collar Crime Center all working together to help solve internet crimes.



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