5 Scams to Watch Out For - with Defense Tips
Recent surveys show that older Americans are criminally defrauded out of 12.76 billion dollars a year. This includes identity theft and the scams or cons we all think we would never fall for. In fact, con artists run away with twice as much of the defrauded funds as identity thieves. Apparently it is much easier to just fool someone into giving away financial information and passwords than it is to hack their password.
Forbes reported that scammers even successfully breached CIA Director John Brennan’s email account by calling and pretending to be a Verizon customer support person. They ultimately obtained his Social Security number which they then used to reset his passwords.
Surprisingly, seniors who are younger, urban and college-educated lose more money than those who are not. Seniors described as friendly lose four times as much to elder financial abuse.
Here are some Scams to Watch Out For:
- Tech support scam – you receive an unsolicited phone call claiming to be from your computer technical support (like Microsoft). They may even tell you to go to a certain website that will then download malware that will retrieve your usernames and passwords or lock your computer, which can only be unlocked by providing them your credit card information.
- IRS Imposter – still the number one scam going on right now. A scammer will call you, allegedly from the IRS, saying you owe back taxes (or that you have a refund due).
- Cancer Rip off – last spring the FTC charged four national cancer charities with defrauding consumers of $187 Million. Investigate any charities that call you for funds. Contact them independently; do not respond to phone calls.
- Jury Duty Scam – a person identifying themselves from the sheriff’s department will call you, saying you have a warrant out for your arrest. They will ultimately say you need to come to the courthouse to resolve this issue, which by the way, includes posting bail via a voucher – which just happens to be an untraceable cash vehicle.
- Chip Card Switchover Scam – con artists posing as a credit card issuer are sending you emails requesting personal and financial information, or asking that you click on virus infected link.
The scammers can be sophisticated and very convincing. The background noise from their phones simulates the office they are purportedly from. They can manipulate the caller ID to say whatever they want it to. They have the social engineering tools to intimidate you, or earn your trust
Defense Tips/What You Should Watch For
- Know that the IRS would not open communication with you via a phone call. They would contact you by mail as would the sheriff’s department.
- Contact any organizations, charities, etc., by looking up their phone numbers or websites yourself. Do not respond by clicking on a provided link in an email.
- See if a charity is trustworthy by researching them on sites like: BBB, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, and GuideStar.
- Know that a credit card company will not contact you to verify personal information it already has. If you have questions, call the number on the back of your card.
- Be suspicious. If in doubt, hang up!