Don’t let the Grinch steal the holidays!
Each year, millions of elderly Americans fall victim to some type of financial fraud. The FBI explains seniors are the perfect target for scammers because they typically have more money (retirement savings, a paid-for home), they’re less likely to report fraud, and can be experiencing memory loss (a trait scammers love to exploit). Indeed, there are hundreds – perhaps even thousands – of scams targeted directly at the senior population. These are all categorized as elder fraud.
Scammers are active in the holiday season
Unfortunately, the holiday season may provide many opportunities for financial scammers looking to take advantage of seniors. While most people look forward to the holiday season, it can be a lonely time, leaving some seniors feeling vulnerable. The growing reliance on complex and confusing technology cause that vulnerability to increase. In a new AARP Fraud Watch Network report, 75-percent reported they have been targeted or experienced at least one form of fraud that can be tied to the holidays. This is a startling statistic!
Tips to avoid a scam
Scammers typically take advantage of people’s generosity and busy schedules during the holiday season to steal information and money. Help yourself by keeping an eye out for common holiday scams and following these tips:
- Romance scams- The internet is a valid place to meet people, but it is also a place that can be dangerous when others don’t have good intentions. It’s easy to connect with someone who is telling you things you want to hear, especially at a time when sentiments and emotions are running high. However, it’s important seniors are aware their potential online romantic connection may be looking to take advantage of them financially.
- Familial or person-in-need scams- Strangers, some acquaintances, or even family members may reach out to a senior with a sad story intending to obtain money. Often, it may be about “gifts for the children.” Although seniors may want to help, the situation may not warrant it. It could simply be a case of a loved one overstating a holiday need or an out-and-out scam, but it’s wise to be vigilant for both.
- Charity scams- The holiday season is a popular time to donate to charities. However, scammers take advantage of less tech-savvy individuals and set up fake charity websites. It’s easy for a scammer to generate a website, using a familiar logo and marketing verbiage, to trick people into donating.
- Shopping Scams- Like charity scams, scammers can set up lookalike websites for stores in hopes of tricking holiday shoppers into thinking they are doing business with a legitimate retailer. It’s important to check if a store or small business is legitimate before giving any personal or financial information.
- Delivery Scams- Because of the increase of online shopping this season, delivery scams are becoming more prevalent. These are not the typical porch-pirate thefts, but more advanced scams. Calls, texts, or emails about deliveries of gifts not purchased — asking for a senior’s details for delivery — can be an attempt to steal credit card numbers or personal information.
Some of these scams are not new. However, they may be amplified and more sophisticated during the holidays and recent years. If you believe you or someone you know may have been a victim of elder fraud, contact your local FBI field office or submit a tip online. You can also file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Hurley Elder Care Law encourages you to be cautious and aware and keep the grinches out of your holidays. We hope you have a very happy, healthy, safe, and prosperous New Year!
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