Scams — they happen. And, I am guessing that it has happened to you or someone you know. Sometimes, it’s a small hack to your social media account that takes over your address book and sends out spam emails to all your friends and family. In other cases, it’s a sophisticated financial fraud scheme. Sometimes, the perpetrator is someone you know: a caretaker, a child, a neighbor.
As a tax attorney, I am well aware of the IRS impersonators. They call you up at odd times of the day and might leave you a message saying that you owe the IRS a lot of money, and that you are going to jail if you don’t pay. I have received calls from clients at night, in an absolute panic, about these exact types of calls.
Or, how about the stories we have become all too familiar with. Grandpa keeps sending his money to a company that promised to protect him from identity theft, only to find out months later that Grandpa has sent several payments that now total $50,000 to a company that does not exist. By the time family members find out, the theft is over. Grandpa, too ashamed to admit he was duped, didn’t tell anyone.
But it’s not just the elderly who get scammed. Oh no. Online dating scams are a common occurrence. Crooks create fake profiles, develop what appears to be real relationships with unsuspecting people, and then convince these people to send them money.
What are we to do about this new form of crime? How do we protect ourselves and our friends and family? What do we do if we find ourselves the victim of a scam? What do we do if our identity is stolen? Is it as simple as dialing 911?
If you want real information and real answers to these questions, then come to this year’s Senior Law Day. On Saturday, June 22, from 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Senior Services of Alexandria and the Alexandria Bar Association will host the eighth annual Senior Law Day event at T.C. Williams High School Auditorium on 3330 King Street, Alexandria, VA. This free event is open to the public. Christina Kieffer, senior director, at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority will be the keynote speaker. There will also be experts from the Alexandria Police, Alexandria Adult Protective Services, local attorneys, Fairfax County’s Silver Shield Fraud Prevention Group and more who will discuss how to “Stand Up for Your Community and Avoid Scams.” Community resource groups will be on hand to answer any questions. The AARP “Shred Truck” will be onsite.
To register for Senior Law Day online, go to www.seniorservicesalex.org or call Senior Services at 703-836-4414, ext. 110. A light breakfast will be served and there is ample parking.
Chris Wright is with Shannon Mullins & Wright LLP in Old Town Alexandria and a member of the Alexandria Bar Association.