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Scammers continue to target Sun City seniors

Posted 6/27/17

By Rusty Bradshaw

Independent Newsmedia

Senior citizens continue to be the target of scammers, and their best defense is themselves.

Sun City Home Owners Association officials receive a high …

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Scammers continue to target Sun City seniors

By Rusty Bradshaw
Independent Newsmedia

Senior citizens continue to be the target of scammers, and their best defense is themselves.

Sun City Home Owners Association officials receive a high volume of calls from residents telling of a variety of situations they experience. Residents also call the Independent and share scam attempts they receive.

“How we wish scams would stop and go away,” stated Carole Studdard, SCHOA executive director, in a news e-blast to members. “Unfortunately, this isn’t happening.”

Residents’ best defense is to protect themselves, Ms. Studdard stated. Arizona Attorney General officials agree, which addresses a variety of fraud and deceptive practices, including financial scams, telemarketing fraud, home repair and bogus charities.

Sun City resident Nancy Tsuchiya shows the collection of solicitations she received. While some are legitimate businesses, others could be scammers trying to catch her off guard. See Guest Commentary on Page 4.

“Con artists use everyday tools to commit these types of scams — the mailbox, the telephone and the internet,” as stated on the Attorney General’s website, www.azag.gov.

Other areas the Attorney General’s Office investigates are charity scams, predatory lending, debt collections, pyramid schemes, door-to-door sales, sweepstakes and lotteries, Internet auctions, travel scams, home improvement schemes and moving fraud. Some of these activities are legal, but scammers use them as a way to trick people, mostly senior citizens, into paying for items and services that may never be given or performed.

Arizona Attorney General has a branch office at the PORA building, 13815 Camino del Sol, Sun City West, where residents can talk with AG representatives about scam concerns.

SCHOA officials conduct regular town hall meetings focusing on a variety of community issues and scams have been a topic in past meetings.

Scams and fraud are committed in a variety of ways and against groups as well as individuals. Jessica Potter Slider, Friends of the Sun City Libraries board member, reported in the group’s May meeting she received a form purportedly from a “Department of Compliance.”

“I was filling it out but some of the questions made me uncomfortable,” she said. “So I Googled it and found out it was a scam.”

Tim Geiger, another Friends board member, said he receives similar forms at his business.

“It is a company that wants to take over the filing of your official documents with agencies like the Arizona Corporation Commission,” he explained.

Nonprofit organizations must file annually with the ACC.

Individuals can not only be approached at their homes, but when they are out in the community. Resident Joanne Rand described an instance in which she was approached by a man who claimed he could repair a damaged bumper on her car.

“He approached me on the pretext of buying my granddaughter’s car,” Ms. Rand said. “When he was there he saw my bumper and said he could fix that.”

The man insisted on being paid in cash in advance of the work. But Ms. Rand said all he did was sand off the paint, put on a coat of a green liquid and covered it with car wax.

“I had to pay someone to get that green stuff off,” Ms. Rand explained.

She said he appeared legitimate, providing a card with a business name, his name and a telephone number.

“He used a fake name — Zach Miller. I knew it was fake because he was Hispanic,” Ms. Rand said.

The telephone number on his card was also fake, she added.

Arizona Attorney General’s Office officials urge residents to not trust a company name in instances such as these.

“Contact a company or agency, directly, to verify if they made the call or sent the letter,” the website states.

Residents can also call to verify companies when approached in person. This should be done before agreeing to any work being done and paying the person who approached them.

Other tips offered by the AG’s staff include do not give anyone financial or other personal information unless they are known to be legitimate and do not wire money or send a check to someone unknown. AG officials also encourage registering telephone numbers, including cellphones, with www.DoNotCall.gov.

“Scammers ignore it, but legitimate businesses generally honor the list,” the AG website states.

Ms. Studdard offered a number of other things that can be done to protect against scams.

“Do not pay in advance for services provided,” she stated in the e-blast. “Read the fine print (on any agreement or contract).”

Other tips she offered are be informed, get at least three bids before committing to have work done, avoid being pressured to make a decision, avoid doing business with people who are unknown, be cautious of door-to-door solicitors, do not negotiate with anyone unknown over the phone, ask if a business is licensed and check with friends of relatives before doing business with someone unknown.

SCHOA maintains a vendor referral list of reliable businesses in a variety of areas that are vetted by SCHOA officials. Check the list at the SCHOA office, 10401 W. Coggins Drive, and members can access the list online at www.suncityhoa.org.

Arizona AG officials encourage residents who believe they have been scammed to call 602-542-2124 or email seniorabuse@azag.gov. Provide as much information about the alleged perpetrator as possible.