Red Phone: Don’t give out personal info

Red Phone

“Dear Red Phone, Somebody’s making phone calls in Morgan Hill and they’ve ripped off some seniors, and they tried to rip me off by you sending them a $200 deposit and they will send you $3,600 in a grant. They claim they’re out of Washington, but it’s a .org organization.”

Dear Worried Walter, Unfortunately there are many different scams out there that prey on both the young and old alike.

The National Crime Prevention Council recommends getting the offer in writing. If the deal is legitimate, the person should be able to send you information by mail. Never give out personal information of any type over the phone if you have not initiated the call.

Local police departments encourage people to report crimes at 846-0300 for Gilroy and 779-2101 for Morgan Hill. You can also contact the Better Business Bureau at or 278-7400. The BBB has some advice for the more often used scams floating around out there. Buyer beware. Good luck.

• Sweepstakes and lottery scams: A letter might arrive that instructs the victim they’ve won a prize, it might ask to send back a check to cover taxes or fees. Advice: Never wire money to someone you don’t know. You should never have to send money to receive any winnings from a lottery or sweepstakes.

Medicare scams: Commonly, a scammer will claim to be with Medicare and ask for personal information. The person might give excuses as to why they can’t access that information. Advice: Medicare will never call to ask for sensitive financial information. If you suspect fraud contact Health and Human Services at 800-HHS-TIPS.

Bereavement scams: In some cases, scammers will call people who just lost a loved one (by looking at obituaries) and claim the person had outstanding debts that must be paid immediately. Advice: Offer help to elderly family members if they have recently lost a loved one and are inexperienced in managing finances. If you are uncertain, ask for written confirmation.