May 15, 2013 8:33 PM by Connie Tran, KSBY News

Phone scammers target the elderly for personal information, money

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office and the San Luis Obispo Police Department are warning residents of phone scams.

The law enforcement agencies said on Wednesday that scammers call with the hopes of obtaining personal information or even money. They said they want people to know how to protect themselves.

San Luis Obispo County's Adult Protective Services Department said scammers are targeting the elderly. The Sheriff's Office said, as the old adage goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

"If it doesn't sound right, hang up," said Tony Cipolla, the public information officer for the SLO Co. Sheriff's Office.

Hanging up the phone is exactly what one man in Nipomo did last week, according to the Sheriff's Office. It said the man received a phone call from someone alleging they were from the National Health Association, and they asked for his checking account number.

Cipolla said, "The victim in this case decided, this sounds a little too fishy, so he decided to ask some questions of his own."

The Nipomo man saved himself from becoming a victim, because the Sheriff's Office said he didn't relinquish any personal information.

Laurie Wylie, the Supervisor of the Adult Protective Services of San Luis Obispo County, said some others may not be so lucky.

She said, "The elderly are susceptible to scams because they're most often home alone, they may be lonely, they may not have connections to other people."

San Luis Obsipo Police said some scammers try to make a personal connection to the elderly by pretending they're the grandchild of the caller and will ask to have money wired for bail or a medical emergency.

"It's very unfortunate, and people lose a lot of money," said Wylie.

So, here are some tips: They said don't be pressured to make an immediate decision, don't ever give personal information to someone you don't know, unless you authorize it, and don't pay for something in hopes you'll get a free gift.

"We're advising everyone to just be on alert. Know that these phone scams are going on," said Cipolla.

Both the Sheriff's Office and Adult Protective Services said these phone scams are on the rise, especially among the elderly. They said once money has been wired or taken away, it is very hard to recoup.

If you believe you've been a victim of a phone scam or know someone who has, you can call Adult Protective Services at (805) 781-1790, or your local law enforcement agency.



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