A few days after the funeral, a “collection agency” calls and says your deceased mother or dad owed $500 and it’s up to you to pay the bill. This scam takes advantage of people who are still in grief.

Elderly people are often targeted. When threatened with legal action, they may rush to settle.  Another goal of the con artist is to obtain bank account and Social Security numbers. Unless you are a cosigner, you are not responsible for the deceased’s debt and you should not pay, whether or not it’s a legitimate bill.

Police say con artists are ramping up their old false winnings game. In difficult times, people are eager to win at something. Some will send thousands of dollars to “pay taxes in advance” to receive lottery winnings.

After getting the money, the con man disappears.

One type of improper “bill collection” may be initiated by legitimate companies. It involves accounts that are settled for one reason or another. But five or six years later, the company sells a list of old debts to a collection agency for pennies on the dollar. In one case, a cardholder’s brother asked to borrow his card so he could use it “just to check into a hotel.” The brother charged $3,000, moved to another city and couldn’t be found. The card company settled for $1,500. Six years later, a collection agency came after the former cardholder for the balance. In spite of the threats, he insisted the account was settled. He never heard from the collector again.

Other cases involve smaller amounts of money.

A collector called to say a woman owed $55 in bank charges on an account that had been closed for several years. He said he could ruin her credit by reporting that she had a bounced check and never paid for it, which wasn’t true. Though some people would be bullied into sending money, this woman was not.

The AARP Foundation offers advice about fraud. Call 1-800-646-2283 for information.

Jim Dummer is the Sales Manager at PagePath Technologies. PagePath was founded in 1983 and is headquartered in Plano, Illinois. PagePath’s MyOrderDesk is an eCommerce solution that combines, Web-to-Print, automated proofing, pricing, reordering and more. It seamlessly integrates into a printing organization’s existing website or can be used as a standalone site. MyOrderDesk is known throughout the printing industry as the leader in Web-to-Print software.