On Your Side Podcast: Scammers targeting senior citizens with all kinds of surprising scams

Here are the scams you need to watch for
This week's episode talks about scam losses, the things most scams have in common, and the schemes you may never see coming, particularly for senior citizens.
Updated: Oct. 30, 2023 at 6:00 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- On Your Side is always working to warn people about the different tactics bad guys are using to steal money and information. Today we’re talking with Brian Watson on the On Your Side podcast. He’s a retired special agent with the IRS’ Criminal Investigation, and now he works with an organization called ROSE, which stands for “Resources and Outreach to Safeguard the Elderly.”

We’ll talk about scam losses, the things most scams have in common. And the schemes you may never see coming, particularly for senior citizens.

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Overstock Issues: Supply chain problems have been persistent, but now retailers have a new problem of having too much...of the wrong stuff. On this episode, we are talking with Leslie Bush, a marketing professor at Arizona State University. She breaks down what’s behind the change in consumer behavior and what it means for your next shopping trip.

How much money you need to retire: A million dollars sounds like a lot of money, and it is! But these days, is it enough money for you to retire? Years ago, a million dollars to save for retirement was always a goal for many but not anymore. Experts say to live comfortably, you have to raise the bar and put more money away. So, we’re talking to Stewart Willis. He’s a financial expert with Asset Preservation Tax and Retirement. He tells us how much we need to retire, how much we should have in our retirement accounts right now depending on age and other financial tips to keep you fiscally sound.

The (still) red hot real estate market: The real estate market is still red hot, but mortgage interest rates are going up. On this episode, we’re talking with Trevor Halpern, a Phoenix-based real estate agent, about what’s happening in the market, if there is a slowdown in home sales on the horizon, and how much competition buyers will face in the coming months.

Budgeting for a wedding: May through October is the most popular time of the year to get married and people are spending big bucks to tie the knot. A recent report indicates that couples spent $28,000 on average on their wedding last year. This year, it will be even more expensive. So, today we’re talking to Stephanie Gilmore, regional banking district senior manager with Wells Fargo. She has some great ideas and tips to keep your wedding costs down so you don’t start off in debt.

Computer Chip Shortage: Arizona is poised to become the semiconductor capital of the West and possibly the United States. The Copper State currently has 200 semiconductors companies and more are being built. On the 3 On Your Side podcast, we’re talking to Tracey Latham. She currently is the U.S. Small Businesswoman of the Year for Arizona and owns a company that relies heavily on semiconductors. She explains why is Arizona being chosen and what it will mean for the state’s economy and labor force.

Full-time Retirement? Maybe Not: Many folks look forward to retirement. When that time comes and they leave their job, they find themselves, well...kind of bored. But some people, as well as companies, have found a solution that benefits both the company and the retiree. It’s called “phased retirement.” On this episode of the 3 On Your Side podcast, we talk with Zanzibar Vermiglio of Zanzibar Enterprises about why human resource directors like the idea of phased retirement. We’ll also discuss why many retirees are deciding to “unretire.”

College Scams: It’s that time of year when college acceptance letters are starting to pour in for parents and their children. It sounds exciting, and scammers know that. With all the hype, it’s the perfect time for conmen to take advantage and try to dupe potential victims when they least expect it. So, we’re talking to Beau Friedlander. He’s an award-winning publisher who’s been writing about cybercrimes and scams for 10 years. He tells us what to look out for when it comes to enrolling students into college, because the scammers will target you over the Internet, through the mail, and even over the phone. MORE INFO: https://link.chtbl.com/CCUnCylF?sid=3onyourside

Cashing in on collectibles: From coins to toys and trading cards, most collectors think their collections will pay off. Ismat Mangla from Magnify Money joins us to break down who is collecting what, how much they’ve spent along the way, and whether the collections ever pay off.

The best (and worst) frequent flyer programs: It looks like people are flying more these days, and that’s raising airfare. In March, airfare went up more than 5%, marking the third largest jump in 20 years. To bring the cost of airfare down, many travelers rely on frequent flyer programs but some are better than others. On this episode, we’re talking to Jill Gonzalez with WalletHub, who evaluated frequent flyer programs for each airline. She’ll break down all the flyer programs to let you know how you can get the most out of each one. MORE INFO HERE.a

Paying off your student loans: Forty-six million Americans are in debt due to student loans, with those debts totaling more than $1.8 trillion. That works out to the average borrower owing more than $35,000. How do you even start a down payment on something like that? On this episode, we’re talking to Andrew Pentis with Student Loan Hero and Lending Tree. He’ll break down which states have the biggest loans, which universities carry the most student debt, and more importantly, how to pay off your loans.

Surprise charges; kids & credit: Have you ever spotted a surprise charge on your credit or debit card? Is your kid to blame? A new LendingTree survey reveals almost half of parents say they’ve caught their children secretly spending. Others knowingly allow their children to borrow their cards and regret it. In this episode, we’re talking with Matt Schultz, the chief credit analyst at LendingTree about how to teach children about credit.

Jet Fuel Prices: We’re all well aware of the spike in gas prices and how it’s affecting your wallet. But what does it mean for airfare? Just like cars, airlines need fuel for their planes. So, how is the Russian-Ukraine war affecting what you pay for airfare. For the answer, we’re talking to Scott Keyes of Scott’s Cheap Airfare. He’s an airline analyst and he’ll tell us what to expect regarding your upcoming vacations and how oil prices could play a major factor in what you pay for airline tickets.

Car Buying Tips: The chip shortage for new cars is still ongoing. So, how long will it last, and how is it affecting consumers as well as car dealers? Today, we’re talking to Karl Brauer. He’s an auto analyst with Iseecars.com and has also worked for Kelly Blue Book, Auto Trader, and Edmunds. Due to the chip shortage, he’ll tell us what new cars are hottest on the market, what used cars are persuading consumers to buy in this time of uncertainty, and what used cars last the longest.

Pain at the Pump: The cost of gas is going up. Today Patrick De Haan, the head of petroleum analysis for Gas Buddy, is joining us. He has the reasons behind what’s driving gas prices and talks about if we can expect any relief on the horizon, particularly since Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine? De Hann says get ready--$4.55 a gallon is very possible for Arizonans. Head to gasbuddy.com to find the cheapest gas near you.

Maximizing Your 401(k): Many companies offer their employees a 401(k) plan to help prepare for their retirement years. However, many workers choose not to enroll, and they are leaving money on the table. A lot of money. On this episode, we’re talking to Ted Schmelzle, a retirement expert from Securian Financial who tells us why it’s throwing away money if you don’t contribute. Plus, he gives tips to grow your money faster.

Salary Negotiations: People are leaving their current jobs in numbers we haven’t seen before. It’s referred to as the “Great Resignation.” But when you’re offered a new job, how do you bring up the topic of salary without being awkward? And how do you comfortably ask for a dollar amount that works for you? Today, we’re talking to Andres Lares. He runs a company called Shapiro Negotiations Institute, a firm that has represents everyday workers and even NBA teams. He explains how to ask for the proper salary or even a raise at your current job.

Love and money: Valentine’s Day is here and “Love is in the Air.” Or is it? A recent report by Personal Capital reveals 57% of U.S. adults ay the pandemic has increased financial stress in their relationship. Today, on the 3 On Your Side podcast, we’re talking to Krista Aliga, a financial advisor with Personal Capital. She explains why money is causing some people to fall out of love and what steps you can take to get make things right.

Saving on Super Bowl food: The big game is almost here, so it’s time to plan for your big Super Bowl spread. But your game day meals and snacks are going to cost you a lot more this year. So today, we’re talking to Karol Flynn with Wells Fargo. She’ll help show you the best buys when it comes to Super Bowl food, plus some great tips to save the next time you head to the store.

Elevating your resume: Looking for a job? Then you’ll need a great resume to stand out from the other candidates. On this episode, we’re talking to Jeff Hyman, author and CEO of Recruit Rockstars. He has great tips to spice up your resume and land the job you want.

Maximizing your credit card perks: How many credit cards do you have? Whatever the number, your cards may have perks you don’t even know about. About 30 percent of Americans who have rewards cards have made no effort to take advantage of their points or perks that they may have. On this episode, we’re talking with Doug Milnes, Chief Financial Analyst with MoneyGeek.com. He has some surprising information when it comes to you and your credit cards.

Tax filing season is here: It’s almost tax time, and if you’re like millions of Americans, you’re expecting a refund. In this episode, Gary Harper and Susan Campbell talk with Mark Steber, the Chief Tax Information Officer at Jackson Hewitt, about new deductions, changes this tax season, and potential IRS delays.

2022′s economic outlook: When it comes to the economy, what can we expect in 2022? Inflation is increasing at a pace we haven’t seen in 40 years, consumer prices are higher, and interest rates are inching up. On this episode, we talk with Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst for BankRate.com. He outlines what he see in 2022′s economy, whether we will see it blossom, or if it will cost us more money.

Gym Memberships: We find ourselves in a new year as 2022 is officially here, and one popular New Year’s resolution is to get into better shape. But is joining a gym the right decision? And if you do join, what should you know when it comes to contracts and how much you pay? Today, we’re talking to Jim Bathurst. He’s a fitness trainer from Nerdfitness and he’s in the business of getting people into shape and losing weight. He’ll break down the do’s and don’ts of joining a gym and what you need to look out for.

Holiday gift returns: The hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping is in full swing and a lot of purchases will be made online. But what do you do if someone gives you an online gift and you need to return it? It may be difficult or impossible. Today, we’re talking to Jill Emanuel. She’s a certified financial coach with Fiscal Fitness. She’s been helping consumers to save money and navigate through complicated topics for years. She has all the do’s and don’ts of returning holiday purchases successfully.

Dangerous toys: Holiday shopping is in full swing, and for kids, toys are at the top of the list. But be careful because some of those toys could be dangerous. Today on the 3 On Your Side podcast, Gary and Susan talk with Hannah Rhodes. She’s a Consumer Watchdog associate with the Arizona PIRG Education Fund. From counterfeit toys to smart toys and toys that are too noisy, she is breaking down exactly what to look out for to keep your family safe this holiday.

Is insurance bundling the way to go?: One expense many consumer have, but don’t pay attention to, is insurance. Home, auto, renter, and more, there’s insurance for just about everything. Does it really save? And how much can you save if you bundle? On this episode, we’re talking to Mark Fitzpatrick from Money Geek. They have dozens of experts who analyze all kinds of statistics and crunch the latest numbers. They found bundling could save you a bunch of money.

Setting and achieving your 2022 financial goals: We’re coming up on the end of the year soon and that means 2021 will officially be in the history books. Looking back, how do you think you did financially? Did you start a retirement fund or savings account? If you have a 401(k), did you increase how much you contribute and are you satisfied financially? 3 On Your Side’s Gary Harper talks to Leslie Tayne. She’s an author of a bestselling book regarding finances. She’s also an attorney who specializes in consumer and debt resolution. She talks about what financial goals you should have in mind to make 2022 one of your best years ever.

Hanging Christmas lights safely: Christmas is almost here, and that means trees and lights! But that combination can be dangerous if you display your lights the wrong way. To keep you safe, we’re talking to John DeCosmo, an expert who knows all about fixing broken lights and hanging them safely.

Choosing a bottle of wine for your holiday party: The holidays are quickly approaching, which means a lot of you might be going to a holiday party. And wine is one of the more popular items that party-goers bring. But what kind of wine? How much should you spend? And what’s a good brand to take with you? In this 3 On Your Side Podcast, we’re talking with Keith Beavers. He’s a self-described “wine geek” who’s been in the wine retail industry in New York for more than a decade. He talks Wine 101 and give us some down to earth tips for choosing a bottle of wine that will make a statement without breaking the bank.

Gift Cards: Americans are sitting on billions of dollars in unused gift cards, so are they really a good gift to give? On this episode, we’re talking with Ted Rossman, a senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com, about spending those unused gift cards. He also has some ideas about what to do with gift cards to stores or restaurants you’ll never visit.

An $859 Billion Holiday Season: The holiday season is almost here and consumers are expected to spend, spend, spend. The National Retail Federation is predicting holiday sales during November and December could balloon to $859 billion. On this episode, we talk with Katherine Cullen, the senior director of industry and consumer insights at NRF, about supply chain challenges, tracking down the perfect gift, and why so many Americans are shopping early.

Supply chain issues & when relief may come: Ongoing supply chain issues seem to have almost paralyzed consumer goods across the country. From canned goods, to computer chips to auto parts, you name it, and they all seem to be hard to come by. But what’s causing the kink in the supply chain and when will we see relief? On this episode, we talk to Bill Thayer. He’s an expert in logistics, retail, and e-commerce, and he’s also CEO of Fillogic, a company that specializes in transporting goods from Point A to Point B. He has some interesting insight about what’s going on with America’s supply chain and when it may end.

Getting the best car insurance for you: When it comes to saving money, your car insurance premiums should be at the top of your list. Yet, nearly half of consumers have failed to comparison shop to see if they can get a better deal. That’s what we’re talking about on the 3 On Your Side podcast. We talk to Mark Fitzpatrick with MoneyGeek.com who will show you how to shop for car insurance and get the best rate.

Car Rental Tips: The cost of renting a car has sky-rocketed over the last year and a half. In fact, in Hawaii, travelers were shelling out $4,000 a week just to rent a car once they flew in for their vacation. On this episode, Gary Harper is talking to Willis Orlando, an analyst with a travel website called Scott’s Cheap Flights which investigates travel costs like renting a car. He’ll explain why car rentals have become so ridiculously high and when rental rates will come down.

Avoiding holiday financial hangover: Nearly half of Americans carry some kind of credit card debt, with an average balance of $6,200. Unfortunately for many consumers, that amount will increase come the holidays. So in this episode, Gary is talking to Kelsa Dickey, a certified financial coach who’s been helping to dig people out of debt for years. She’s going to tell us what we can to starting today in order to avoid a financial hangover after the holidays.

Beware of flooded cars for sale: Thank goodness Hurricane Ida is behind us, but she left a path of destruction. In fact, Ida left $95 billion worth of damage in Louisiana and surrounding states and much of that destruction was caused to cars. Unfortunately, many of those water damaged vehicles will be cleaned up and sold to unsuspecting consumers around the nation. Today we’re talking to Patrick Olsen from Carfax. Carfax has access to around 20 billion records for vehicles, and they collect the information from around 100,000 different sources to determine if a car has been in an accident, if the odometer has been rolled back, or in this case, if the car you’re thinking of buying has been waterlogged from a hurricane.

Sextortion Alert: It is a form of internet bribery that has victimized countless people. The elements are intriguing. They involve romance, photos, lies, and eventually money. A lot of money. Gary Harper is talking to Nate Warfield a former internet hacker who eventually used his skills to help people and companies to protect themselves while online. Warfield is here to tell us about something called “sextortion” and what you need to do to protect yourself against it.

FEMA COVID-19 Funeral Assistance: Nearly 600,000 Americans have lost their lives to Covid-19. It’s terrible news, and many loved ones paid out of pocket for those funerals. But why? Particularly when the federal government has set aside money to pay for those services. On this episode, Gary Harper is talking to Ed Michael Reggie, CEO of Future Factory and a known consumer advocate and expert in the funeral industry. He explains details of the program and says many people just don’t know about it and what is needed to qualify.

The Supermarket Guru: In this episode, Gary Harper is talking about something that affects nearly everyone across the nation and that’s rising food prices. To break things down, Gary talks to Phil Lempert who’s known as the “Supermarket Guru.” Lempert is an author, speaker and one of the leading experts in the nation when it comes to following food trends.

Skyrocketing Rent: Rent is increasing, not only in Phoenix, but all across the nation. On this episode, Gary Harper is joined by Jeff Andrews with Zumper, an apartment rental website that monitors rental trends. Andrews says national rent went up 12% since this time last year, and there’s no indication of going down. Andrews explores the reasons behind the jump. Gary is then joined by 3 On Your Side producer Warren Trent to discuss home rental scams they’ve covered and tips for consumers to avoid from being ripped off.

Great Resignation: In this edition of the 3 On Your Side Podcast, Consumer Investigator Gary Harper talks about something that’s being referred to as the “Great Resignation.” Apparently, more people are leaving their jobs now than ever before. But what is driving the mad exodus of leaving careers and starting a new one?

A Raging “Scamdemic”: For this edition of the 3 On Your Side Podcast, Gary Harper talks to Jack Caporal, an analyst and writer with The Ascent and The Motley Fool research team who has gathered statistics regarding COVID-19 fraud cases. Arizona consumers have been swindled out of nearly $10 million with an average loss of $325. Caporal uses a term “Scamdemic” while referring to the COVID-19 scams. Since the beginning of the pandemic, American’s have filed over a half-million COVID-19 fraud reports totaling over $480 million according the Federal Trade Commission. Arizona ranks No. 13 in the U.S. when it comes to COVID-19 fraud cases, California tops all states with COVID-19 fraud losses totaling more $65 million.

Protecting Your Privacy: Gary Harper and Susan Campbell offer tips to consumers help them protect their privacy in only a matter of seconds. Lending their expertise on privacy is Thomas Germain, a technology writer at Consumer Reports. This 3 On Your Side episode wraps up with Gary and Susan offering tips for consumers to help avoid falling victim to a common trick crooks use to steal your money, The Overpayment Scam.

Don’t get boxed in with your move: When it comes to moving, it is among the most complained about industry’s 3 On Your Side get emails about. To help expose the pitfalls, Gary Harper and Susan Campbell talk to Ryan Charles, from a company called Hire a Helper who sheds light to help consumers from getting ripped off during their move. Gary and Susan wrap up this podcast segment talking about the pitfalls of buying sight unseen vehicles online.

Used car prices going through the roof: If you’re thinking about buying a new vehicle, you might want to pump the brakes. Used car prices are through the roof with new cars often getting full sticker prices on the lot. Emilie Voss is from Carfax and talks to Gary Harper and Susan Campbell about the rising used car prices and what consumers need to know so they don’t get taken for a ride. This 3 On Your Side Podcast ends with Susan and Gary answering questions they frequently get from consumers about balance billing complaints.

Beware of Contracting Scams: This is the season where monsoons can bring damaging winds and rains for countless citizens. Summer is also a time when scammers often show up after a storm offering repair deals that are too good to be true. Jeff Wills, is Chief of Investigations at the Arizona Registrar of Contractors who talked to Susan Campbell and Gary Harper about the Red Flags consumers need to be mindful of as scammers show up unannounced after a storm looking to separate you from your hard earned money. This episode wraps up with Susan and Gary discussing complaints 3 On Your Side often receives about different types of payment scams. For example, viewers tell us they may get a phone call from someone who they believe is their utility company, threatening to shut off their utility if they don’t pay a certain amount of money immediately. It’s a common scam consumer frequently fall victim to.

Deals Take Flight: As summer travel takes flight, 3 On Your Side’s Gary Harper and Susan Campbell talk to Scott Keyes, founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights. Keyes offers tips for consumers to help them find post-pandemic travel deals. The episode concludes with Gary and Susan answering viewer questions about Renters Rights. Information consumers need to keep in mind when it comes to landlord tenant disputes.

Navigating the Hot Housing Market: Susan Campbell and Gary Harper take you on a house hunt with Phoenix, Arizona based real-estate agent Trevor Halpern from Halpern Residential. Halpern helps buyers and sellers navigate the ultra-competitive housing market. 3 On Your Side frequently receives numerous emails from disappointed consumers about things not covered by their Car or Home Warranty. The episode concludes with Susan and Gary offering tips consumers should keep in mind before agreeing to pay thousands of dollars for a Car and/or Home Warranty.

Saving $1,000 on Any Salary: If you have a desire to learn how to save $1,000 on any salary, Gary Harper and Susan Campbell have the answer. On this edition of the 3 On Your Side Podcast, they talk to Deacon Hayes, a financial expert and founder of Well Kept Wallet, a financial education company that strives to enlighten consumers across the globe through a personal finance curriculum. This episode concludes with Gary and Susan answering viewer emails about their decisions to help the environment by adding Solar panels to their homes. While there are consumers pleased with going solar, there are things consumers need to keep in mind when deciding if they should buy or lease solar panels. For example, leasing solar panels can last up to 25 years, with escalating monthly payments.