Last week, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) notified via their Email Update list that they had a number of people receive emails falsely claiming to be sent from the Administration on Aging (AoA) and specifically from Deputy Assistance Secretary for Aging, Edwin Walker, requesting personal and financial information.

These emails are not from AoA and are known as a Phishing scam. 

  • ACL will never ask for your social security number.
  • ACL will not ask you to send a check in order to access a benefit.
  • You can always contact ACL at (202) 401-4634 to check to see if a message is valid.

“Phishing is the attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, bank and other financial account, and credit card details (and, directly or indirectly, money), often for malicious reasons, by disguising as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication including email and text messages. For anyone, but particularly for older and vulnerable adults, phishing can be an opening to fraud and financial abuse.”

Phishers include links in an email to lure unsuspecting receivers to fake sites that look like the legitimate ones.  Once these links are clicked the user may have their login credentials stolen or these links could be used to infect a recipient’s computer with a virus. Phishers may also ask for sensitive, personally identifiable information that would allow them access to bank or other financial accounts.

Avoid phishing/scam emails by asking oneself the following questions:

  • Is the company or sender’s email address recognizable or familiar?
  • Is communication from the company or organization expected?
  • Is the salutation addressed to a person’s name rather than, for example, “sir/madam”? ACL states, “This may not always prove that the email is legitimate due to the fact that your name may be in your email address, but it’s good to check.”
  • A good rule of thumb is to hover over any hyperlink, in any email received, to verify the source Uniform Resource Locator (URL) code to verify that it is a recognized company or organization.

The Santa Clara County Office of the District Attorney, specifically the Consumer Protection Unit, can provide information and resources for reporting and prevention.

If a phishing email is received, one can delete the email or, forward the email to be investigated for evidence of who sent it and who is responsible for sending it. 

Reports can be made to the following Federal agencies:

Learn more about email scams—speak with a Community Resource Specialist at (408) 350-3200, option 1.