Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County's 
 Senior Scam Alert Newsletter
March 2018

Meet Legal Aid Attorney 
Jay White

Part of my work here at the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County is to make sure you are aware of scams out there so you can protect yourself and help spread the word. 

Every other month I will be sending you information I have about the latest scams.

If you or a senior you know needs legal advice or counsel about a scam,  please don't hesitate to contact Jay White at the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County at (650) 558-0915.
Phony Tech Support Scams
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is reporting a surge in tech support scams targeting older adults.
Tech support scams often start with a pop-up on your computer screen that tells you to "call now, or else...!" 

If you get an urgent message like this---don't click, call, send money or give out any information.
Similarly if you receive an unexpected or urgent phone call from someone who claims to be from "tech support", hang up.
To convince you that both the scammers and the problems are real, the scammers may:
  • Pretend to be from a well-known company - like Microsoft or Apple.
  • Use lots of technical terms.
  • Ask you to log onto your computer and open some files - and then tell you those files show a problem (when they don't).
  • Ask you to give them remote access to your computer - which lets them change your computer settings so your computer is vulnerable to attack (do not give them control of your computer).
  • Trick you into installing malware (bad stuff) that gives them access to your computer and sensitive data, like user names and passwords.
  • Try to sell you software that's worthless, or that you could get elsewhere for free.
  • Try to enroll you in a worthless computer maintenance or warranty program.
  • Ask for credit card information so they can bill you for phony services, or services you could get elsewhere for free.
  • Direct you to websites and ask you to enter your credit card number and other personal information.
There are things you can do to guard against the crooks.
  • Never share passwords or give control of your computer to anyone who contacts you.
  • If you do believe something is wrong with your computer, contact the computer manufacturer's tech support for possible assistance---or call a tech savvy friend. 
  • If you think you see a scam, talk with someone you trust. Then report it to the Federal Trade Commission at  Your story could help others avoid being scammed.

Scammers Want You to Pay Your Taxes To Them
Scammers, allegedly from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or U.S. Treasury Department may call you or e-mail you demanding payments by iTunes Gift Cards, Green Dot prepaid Cards, MoneyPak Cards, Reloadit Prepaid Debit Cards, or other prepaid credit cards, Western Union or Moneygram.  

The IRS does not make these demands. These are fraudulent requests. If anyone insists you pay in one of these ways, the FTC wants to know. Please contact the FTC at or via FAX (877) 479-9135.

Scammers Want Your Social Security Number So They Can Steal Your Identify
Scammers want your Social Security number. It's an important key for an identity thief who will use it to access much of your personal sensitive information. Scammers think of all sorts of ways to trick you into giving it to them.

For example, you may get contacted by someone claiming to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA). They say there is a computer problem, and they need to confirm your Social Security number. Don't give it to them.

A scammer may say you need a new Social Security card and direct you to a fake website that appears to be Social Security's website and you'll be asked to enter your number to apply for a new card. If you receive a phone call or are directed to a website other than Social Security Administration - - don't respond. 

These are most likely scams. Don't give the caller any of your personal information like your bank account, credit card, or Social Security number - unless you know who you're dealing with.

If you suspect a caller is an imposter, the Social Security Administration suggests you contact them directly at 
(800) 772-1213 to verify, or deny, the caller's identity prior to providing any information.

Work at Home Scam
Working at home can be a very rewarding way of earning income. But, it can also be a source of income for scammers if they can trick you into sending money.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported crooks in one organization defrauded consumers out of more than $14 million. They provided nothing more than a series of "training" videos, a few PDF documents with so-called "coaching" sessions that turned out to be sales pitches to get people to send more money.
Methods used by the scammers include these tried and effective tricks:
  • Outrageous claims - "You are about to receive a very special guide that reveals how YOU can make six figures online in the next ninety days or less."
  • Deceptive testimonials - Videos of members scuba diving, hiking, and lounging by a pool as you money poured in on autopilot.
  • High-pressure upselling - "You are leaving $60,000 on the table" by not moving up to the next membership tier.
  • Free trial periods that aren't as they seem - Ads promising 14-day "test drives," but fine print giving people just 72 hours to cancel.
If someone promises you fast and easy money, you can bet it's a scam. Don't take the bait. Instead, search the company's name online with words like "scam" or "complaint." Share what you know with a friend, and help others by reporting what you've spotted to