Protecting yourself from scammers

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(ABC 6 News) – In the past couple of weeks, Rochester police have reported an increase in scams.

Now 125 Live in Rochester is hosting classes next week to give you the tools to better protect yourself and your loved ones.

Seniors are most at risk of falling victim to various scams. Scammers are becoming more sophisticated, disguising themselves as service companies, family members or debt collectors.

“People always think that it won’t happen to them until they see that it’s happened to somebody close to them and then it becomes more real,” Julie Anderson, a social worker with Olmsted County Adult Protection Services, said.

Anderson said the best way to prevent scams is by word of mouth.

“Especially recently it’s become a very hot topic,” Ken Baerg, Director of Operations at 125 Live, said.

In just the past two weeks, police said Rochester victims have lost more than $500,000 to scammers. In one case, a Rochester couple lost $300,000. That’s money police say they will never get back.

“The idea is better ‘how do I identify certain kinds of common reoccurring themes regarding certain scams? How to re-address certain uncomfortable conversations that one needs to have regarding as they age,'” Baerg said.

One thing police said you should be wary of when it comes to scammers: Asking for gift cards as a form of payment. 

“So I think the big thing from these programs is to kind of outline that even if you’re a victim, it doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with you, there’s no real concern or worry,” Baerg said.

Olmsted County said one in ten adults are scammed and that the average age of victims is between 55 and 70 years old. But, they’re not the only ones.

“We were trying to get concert/show tickets last minute, of course, looking for a deal,” Lynzee Makowski said. 

Facebook Marketplace is where Makowski was scammed out of a couple of hundred dollars.

“It wasn’t that bad but bad enough to where it was a bummer… Couple hundred bucks I’m like okay, now I’ve learned my lesson,” she said.

“It happens so quickly and it can happen to very educated people that think that they know all of the precautions and these scammers are just so great at talking and making people second guess their thoughts,” Anderson said.

125 Live has held these classes in the past and they are typically full. There will be two classes next week on Sept. 7 and 8. You are encouraged to register beforehand by calling (507) 287-1404 or by stopping by 125 Live.