The New Hampshire State Police is seeking to raise public awareness about a telephone scam that targets seniors and has caused devastating financial and emotional harm. The scam has victimized elderly residents throughout Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, resulting in losses of hundreds of thousands of dollars. New Hampshire residents are currently being targeted by this scam.
The scam starts with a phone call claiming that you have won the lottery and/or a car – all you need to do is pay a transfer fee to collect the winnings. Scammers prey on your emotions, gain your trust and coerce you into providing personal information and sending large sums of money.
Victims are currently being instructed to purchase prepaid money cards such as a Green Dot MoneyPakCard or a Readydebit Card at their local store. The scammers give step by step instructions where to find the cards in the store, which specific card to purchase and what cash amount to load onto the prepaid card.
It is important that you talk to your loved ones frequently, particularly those who are elderly, to find out if they have received unusual phone calls. Sometimes perpetrators caution victims not to speak to family members about what they’re doing, creating a sense of fear among seniors when the topic is raised. Be vigilant and persistent in protecting your friends, relatives or other vulnerable citizens.
Simple tips on preventing phone scams:
- If you get a call saying you’re a winner – don’t pay any money to collect supposed sweepstakes winnings. Legitimate operations won’t require you to pay to collect your winnings.
- It’s against federal law to play a foreign lottery – so if you get a call it is likely a scam.
- Never wire money to anyone with whom you are not familiar.
- Never provide anyone with personal information such as bank accounts, pin numbers or Social Security numbers.
- Check any unfamiliar area codes before returning calls.
- Be aware that there are many 3-digit area codes that connect callers to international telephone numbers – especially 876.
- If you do not have Caller ID, consider adding it to your phone service. Caller ID allows you to add a
- Call Intercept feature that screens calls and offers the option to reject suspicious international calls.
- If you do not make international calls, ask your telephone provider to block outgoing international calls.
Contact your phone service provider, local authorities, or the Federal Trade Commission to report a potential scam.