scam alert for seniors kavesh minor otisAn alarming number of people are falling victim to scams these days.  Those who are targeting consumers are getting smarter and it’s becoming harder for people to differentiate what might be real and what’s not.

Here are some of the latest scams that people have been reported:

  • Checks or Payment from the Government. Where people may be told that the government has checks issued to them and they need information from them in order to get them the funds.
  • Census Scams. Scammers seeking to collect information from the Census Bureau for the 2020 Census, but then asking you questions around your financial information in order to get sensitive data from you.
  • Charity Scams.  Fake charities are a common scam in times of disaster, as more and more individuals wish to donate towards a cause.  It can be extremely difficult to differentiate between what’s a real versus a fake charity.
  • COVID Testing, Vaccine and Treatment Scams.  Scammers are now offering consumers at-home test kits of the ability to try out miracle cures or vaccines.  Some Medicare recipients have reported being targeted for COVID-19 testing with an attempt to steal their personal information.
  • COVID Military Family Scams. Family members (particularly older grandparents) have been targeted claiming to be calling on behalf of a family member serving in the military, claiming their loved one has fallen ill with COVID-19 and are in need of financial assistance for treatment or to send them home.
  • Bank and FDIC Scams. Scammers have been calling consumers claiming to be with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (also known as the “FDIC”) and will tell a consumer that his or her ability to withdraw cash from their bank accounts is in jeopardy and use it to extract personal banking information.

While most people can spot these scams a mile away, many scammers target seniors and others who may be more vulnerable and unable to detect a scam.

Below are a few helpful tips to help avoid becoming a victim of fraud.

TIP #1: Spot Tell-Tale Signs of Scams

Scammers often try to scare people by pretending to be government agencies (such as the Social Security Administration or IRS).  They often target peoples’ fears, such as something to do with their money, income, or loved ones.  If you receive phone calls, e-mails, and text messages with any claims of urgent and important alerts that require you to provide financial information or assistance, that should be a red flag warning that it may be a scam and to investigate the matter further if you think there may be a real threat or issue that requires your attention. Requests to wire, provide your social security number or banking information are all huge red flags!

TIP #2: Don’t Believe Your Caller ID

Scammers have also find ways to falsify their identity on caller ID, so just because your caller ID may identify someone as being a legitimate agency or person, don’t assume that to be true.

TIP #3: Beware of “Get Rich Quick” Schemes

If you're contacted about fake winning lottery tickets or about other "get rich quick" claims where folks ask you to help collect your winnings (or offer to split their winnings if you assist them), don't fall for it!  They may ask you to pay a "reimbursable" fee and even send you a check in advance to show their "good faith".  The bank may make your funds available before their checks clear (spoiler alert: it won't!).  DO NOT fall for these schemes!

TIP #4: When In Doubt, Check It Out (and Ask for Help!)

Whenever in doubt, err on the side of caution and ask someone you trust and who would have your best interest in mind to help you determine whether something is a scam.  If you get a call about your grandchild needing financial help, try calling back your grandchild directly (or call their parents).  It will not hurt you to do your due diligence to determine the validity of a call, e-mail or text before giving up personal and financial information or money. 

We hope that these tips can help you or someone that you know.  Feel free to pass this article and the following links along to anyone you know that may benefit.  You may also wish to visit some of the following websites for more information:

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