PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -
More than 12 million Americans fall victim to these scams each year, that's why Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit hosted a Scam Stopper Seminar at the Mizell Senior Center in Palm Springs.
Palm Springs Police and the Riverside County C.A.R.E Program, Curtailing Abuse Related to the Elderly, want you to be educated and not a victim.
On at least three occassions, Forrest Johnson, of Palm Springs, got scammed. The most recent was a year ago when a caller pretended to be his grandson asking for bail money.
"He fooled me and I got the money, went down to mail it to him. But the lady at the Walmart money transfer office said, 'I wouldn't do that. It's a scam,'" said Johnson.
Ways to protect yourself.
- Use post offices to drop your mail
- Don't give out personal information when people call, unless you initiated the call
- Verify caller's information
- Be alert
- Hang up if you feel uncomfortable
Thieves target zip codes and the Coachella Valley is on their radar.
"Scammers figure this is a fluent retirement community and they don't care if you have millions of dollars or a fixed income, they will take every penny you have," said C.A.R.E Program coordinator Geri Crippen-Richardson.
It's not just strangers doing the scamming, it's very common for family members to commit the crime.
"It's a fairly large percentage, almost a third of identity theft and misuse of personal information comes from people we know, family members, caretakers, and people we trust and let into our house," said Palm Springs Police Det. Lembit Kulbin.
"Know you need to hang up or they'll keep calling you and keep harassing you, and eventually get money out of you," said Richardson.
If you're feeling victimized or harassed by a telemarketer or caller, you can report the incident to police or to the C.A.R.E program at 800-476-7506.
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