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Idaho Falls 'Scam Jam' teaches seniors about popular scams

By Caleb James
Published On: Aug 09 2012 01:33:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 08 2012 07:11:35 PM CDT

Caleb James reports.

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho -

On Wednesday in Idaho Falls, more than 200 senior citizens got an education in avoiding all sorts of scams.

The event is called "Scam Jam."

Eldon Kirby was at the event. He said his brother was woken by his phone ringing one night. The caller said he was Kirby's son, calling from Barcelona, Spain.

"He was out one night, and they got picked up by the police there," said Kirby.

Desperate for help, he had called his uncle.

"He needed money to get out of jail in Spain," said Kirby.

But, Kirby's son was nowhere near Spain the night Kirby's brother got that call.

"I says, 'He's in Salt Lake in bed. So, if that guy calls back, tell him to stay in jail,'" said Kirby.

At the Idaho Falls senior Scam Jam on Wednesday, experts from around the state aimed to educate senior citizens to the dangers of scammers.

Personal finance expert Luke Erickson from the University of Idaho said the scam Kirby experienced is targeting more and more seniors.

"A very popular scam right now is the friend or family member in distress," said Erickson. "Especially grandparents, very willing to help, very generous."

Kirby, while probably a generous dad, said he just knew it was a scam for one very simple reason.

"I knew when (my son) is traveling and when he's not traveling," he said.

Erickson said knowledge is the best defense against any scam.

If someone contacts you masquerading as a loved one, don't feel bad asking some questions.

"Where did we go on vacation five years ago?" Erickson said, as an example. "If they can't answer that question, an imposter isn't going to know that unless they've really done their homework."

The fake family member isn't the only thing seniors should be looking out for. There's the also the bank representative who calls to say they need your account information.

"That should be a red flag to because you should understand, if it really is your bank, or a company you've done business with, they should already have your information," said Erickson.

Erickson said the easiest way to tell if the caller is really who they say, is a simple call back to your bank for verification.

The scams Kirby and Erickson talked about on Wednesday were only 2 of dozens of scams discussed by more than 10 speakers at Scam Jam.

If you missed the Idaho Falls event Wednesday, Pocatello will host a Scam Jam on Thursday, August 9 starting at 9 a.m. at the ISU Pond Student Union. The event is free.  

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