Seniors arming themselves with ways to avoid scam artists

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Several seniors aren’t going to let themselves become the next victims of fraud.

Dozens of them sat in on a free class to avoid scams. But what if that email or robocall seems legitimate?

An employee from 24-Hour News 8 got a mailer about renewing a service he didn’t even remember ordering. It even came with a return envelope. But just because it seems trustworthy, doesn’t mean it is legitimate.

In a class led by Cindy Oetjen, a Marion County Deputy Prosecutor, dozens of people are learning ways to spot scam artists by screening calls and ignoring emails.

“Just because something looks legitimate does not mean that it is,” she said.

So we showed her the mailer received by a 24-Hour News 8 employee.

“It looks like that this person has already had this service and now they’re asking them to renew this service when this man doesn’t even know it had had the service in the first place,” she analyzed.

The service is through Direct Energy, a natural gas and home service company.

“Make sure that you Google the companies or do some sort of research to make sure that the company is an actual legitimate company,” advised Oetjen.

So that’s what we did, hoping to figure out why Direct Energy reached out to a customer who didn’t remember doing so. It turns out the customer got his A/C unit fixed through One Hour Heating and Air Condition, one of Direct Energy’s brands.

Another one of its brands, Home Comfort Collection, wanted him to renew his warranty on the A/C unit. The problem was when he initially bought his warranty, Home Comfort Collection had a different name.

Direct Energy admits the name change was poorly communicated but swears that it would never scam one of its own customers.

Researching a company is one of the tips Dollie Fair plans to use, that or just her old fashion approach.

“Somebody always calling wanting some money,” she said. “I just hang the phone up.”

The Direct Energy representative I spoke with went on to say that the company will analyze how it’s communicating that name change with its customers. He said mailers were sent out to warn people about the change, but that it might not have been enough to make people aware.

Anyone believing they have been scammed should call the Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-382-5516 or visit Internet Crime Complaints or FCC Complaint Assistance.

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