Top 6 Ways to Avoid Scams
Scam artists abound on the internet, email and social media. Yet, the older population seems to be at a greater risk than younger folk. But we think, anyone who is trusting and hopeful could be scammed. And certainly, we are looking for reasons today to be both trusting and hopeful.
Approximately $35 billion dollars annually are bilked out of Americans over the age of 65. One out of every five adults (65+) are scammed each year. And recently, we read somewhere that within the next few years, more than 50% of calls to your phone (both cell and landlines) will be robocall scam artists trying to suck you into something you don’t need or want. So how do you protect yourself, your parents and your kids?
- Register all Phones. The National Do Not Call Registry is a legitimate government watchdog on robocall scams and telemarketers. You can register online at gov or call 888.382.1222. It takes less than a minute to register each phone number – both landlines and cell phones. To even further decrease scams, register on http://nomorobo.com/ (landlines only) as well.
- Review Finances Monthly. Most people don’t review their bank balances, bank records or credit card bills. You should do this every month and make sure all the charges look accurate. Often, scammers will charge a few bucks to your card and wait to see if you notice it. If you don’t, then next month they make a much larger purchase and may even continue to do so for quite a while without your knowledge. If you see a charge that doesn’t look right, call your bank or credit card company immediately and dispute the charge. If you help your parents with their bills and finances, review this monthly with your parents so they understand why and what you’re doing.
- Notify Banks/Cards. Whether you’re going out of the country or out of state, call your bank or credit card companies for the card(s) you plan on using to let them know. This also sets precedent, so they’ll know if a charge comes through from Siberia and you haven’t notified them that you’ll be traveling-it’s most likely not you. Many banks and cards give you the option to do this online now.
- Don’t Answer Calls. Do not answer the phone if you don’t know who it is. You and your loved ones should have all the important contacts listed on your phone by name. If a call comes in with a number and no name associated with it, chances are the call is a scam. Let the caller leave a message, which they most likely won’t do if it’s a scam artist. Help your parents add all their contacts into their phones and encourage them not to answer calls if they don’t recognize the number. This is becoming more difficult as scammers are getting more sophisticated and calling you using ghost numbers that are closely matched to your area code.
5. Delete Unknown Emails. Any email that shows up in your Inbox requesting personal information, money or other data from you is most likely fraudulent if you don’t know the sender or didn’t request the email to begin with. Don’t just ignore the email but delete it as well. It may contain a virus, so you want to get rid of it completely.
- Don’t Use Public Wi-Fi. Whether you’re traveling, at the airport or sitting at your local favorite coffee shop, it’s never a good idea to use their public Wi-Fi. Why? Because hackers can position themselves (virtually) between you and the connection spot thereby stealing all your information as you email, text, purchase and surf. What to do instead? Either use your hotspot from your personal cell phone data or just wait until you get to a secure connection such as home or office.
If you believe or your loved one has been scammed, you can report it to the local Adult Protective Services agency near you. To find the nearest office check out http://www.napsa-now.org/get-help/help-in-your-area/.
If your parents get any calls, emails or other unsolicited inquiries in to their finances, personal information or anything else, tell them to wait before responding! It can always hold off another day. A friend of mine told me her mother received a phone call from a sweet-sounding girl pretending to be her granddaughter. The caller lured her into saying the granddaughter’s name somehow and connived her into venmo’ing several hundred dollars so she could “get out of jail before mom finds out and she’ll never talk to me again.”
My dad always said, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t (true).”
And to see the hottest scams thus far of 2018: http://www.consumerfraudreporting.org/current_top_10_scam_list.php
Photo credits by: swedish.org, bigislandnow.com and ftc.gov
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