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Darien Police: Scammers Prey On Seniors' Trust

DARIEN, Conn. – The best way a senior citizen can avoid being the victim of a scam, according to Darien police, is to be aware of who they are trusting with their private information. Some scammers take advantage of seniors by posing as family members or repair people.

A common scam called the “grandparent scheme” occurs when somebody calls a senior claiming to be a relative who has been arrested . Oftentimes, they will claim to be out of the country, say they need immediate help and tell the grandparent not to tell anyone.

“Any time they ask for money, take a step back, think about it for a second and then ask them something only a family member would know," Officer Luke Adams said at a presentation at the Darien Senior Center. "A lot of the time when you ask them something like that, they hang up.”

Seniors should also check with family members and the police to verify that the person calling is their relative and that they are telling the truth before sending any money, police advised.

In the chimney scam , somebody calls or comes to your door and says they took over the business for the company that cleaned your chimney last year. They will offer a cheap price to clean your chimney. If you agree, they will claim to find something that needs immediate attention or else it will threaten your safety.

“They use scare tactics, because they know we will do anything to protect our homes and our families,” said Sgt. Keri Isaac. One red flag is if the price is too cheap. Often the scammers will offer to clean the chimney for $40, when the service should cost upward of $100.

You should also be suspicious of people who offer to do work on your home immediately, Isaac said. People doing repair work should give you three days to cancel the service.

Another scam that’s become prevalent is home health-care aides who steal credit card and other financial information, police said. Health-care workers have recently scammed seniors out of as much as $28,000, Adams said.

One way to avoid getting scammed by aides is to make sure that a family member or a friend monitors any financial information that the worker can access. Check bank and credit card statements to make sure they are spending your money only on what you need.

Any senior worried that they may be the target of a scam should call the Darien Police Department at 203-662-5300.

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