by Jeffrey Ransom, Administrative Assistant
The holidays bring joy, generosity and good will towards others. Most families and friends enjoy spending time together and performing seasonal traditions. However, this time of year also is when scammers are at the height of their work. Since people generally feel more generous during the holiday season, scammers find this time more enticing to take advantage of individuals.
Many seniors are known for showing compassion for those less fortunate, so they are especially sought after by scammers during the holidays, as well as the rest of the year. Here are some indications of someone pulling a scam:
- Phone scam. Beware of anyone calling and asking for money or personal information, such as bank account or credit card information, social security number, birth date, etc. A person should never give out personal information to an unknown source. He/she should immediately hang up the phone.
- Grandparent scam: A senior should use caution if he/she receives a call from a person claiming to be their grandchild and asking for money to pay rent or tuition, to fix a car, bail to get out of jail, etc. There may even be a partner posing as a police or corrections officer to make the call more authentic. A person should simply hang up the phone and call his/her grandchild at the phone number on file for the individual or contact another family member to ensure the authenticity of the call.
- Charity scam: Americans have a long history of supporting worthy causes and non-profits, especially during the holiday season. Scammers know this and will disguise as a person collecting funds for a charity. If a person receives a call from what he/she believes to be an established charitable organization, the person should ask for detailed information about the non-profit. If the caller is unable to answer the questions or something doesn’t seem right, the person should hang up and directly call the charity.
- Computer scam: A person should beware if he/she receives a call from an individual who claims to be an IT professional and tells the persons his/her computer has a virus. Usually, the scammer will assure the person that he/she will be able to remove the virus, but to do so, the scammer will need access to the person’s computer. Once the scammer has access, he/she will be able to install software that will allow him/her to retrieve the person’s information stored on the computer, record the person’s key strokes and acquire bank account and credit card numbers, usernames, and passwords.
- Web scam: While using a computer, a person may see a pop-up window warning that the computer has a virus, and the person needs to click on the install button to remove it. This is most likely a scam. Clicking on the link could give a scammer access to a person’s computer and any information stored in it. A person should never give anyone remote access to his/her computer unless the person has personally hired an IT company to perform services and updates. A person should purchase authorized virus protection software and not click on a pop-up message.
If someone believes he/she has been contacted by a scammer or is a victim of a scam, the individual should immediately contact a trusted loved one and/or the authorities. It is important to address the situation as soon as possible to reduce any damage that may occur. There is nothing to be ashamed about, some scammers are professionals and can easily mislead a person.
Organizations that can help protect or assist seniors from being scammed include, NAPSA – National Adult Protective Services Association (www.napsa-now.org), Eldercare Locator (eldercare.acl.gov), National Center on Elder Abuse (ncea.acl.gov), and AARP (aarp.org).
Information for this article was obtained from Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, National Council on Aging and other valuable sources.
Printed in the Daily Local News on Wednesday, November 28, 2018.