Senate Special Committee Looks For Solutions to Phone Scams

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Answering the phone is costing people hundreds, or even thousands of dollars.

Photo Credit: Stuart Frisby

The Senate Special Committee on Aging held a hearing Wednesday to talk potential solutions to a growing problem involving phone scams and the elderly.

In some of the schemes, elderly victims will get a phone call from scammer claiming to be a relative that is in some type of distress. The victim is asked to purchase money cards from a store and then relay the number on the card to the person on the other end of the phone.

Roger W. testified in front of the committee about his experience. A fraudster pretended to be his grandson and said that he was in jail and needed money to get out.

After repeated calls and the purchase of $7,000 in Green Dot Money Paks, Roger W. became suspicious.

"It then became obvious that grandpa and grandma were victims of a scam. Looking at the MoneyPak card there is a warning that says in small print—let me repeat that, IN SMALL PRINT—it says, 'If anyone else asks you for your MoneyPak number or information from you receipt, it's a scam and Green Dot is not responsible for paying you back,'" Roger W. said.

Sen. Bill Nelson said that Green Dot Money Pak, which is the card of choice for many scammers, has announced plans to retire the cards from store shelves.

The committee also heard from a member of the FTC on ways the commission is combating telemarketing fraud.