The holidays can be rough for seniors who are searching for great gifts for their loved ones. Economic exploitations happen throughout the year, but their rates rise during the holidays, where many fraudsters are looking for victims. Protecting yourself from holiday scams requires advanced knowledge of what tactics are being used to scam and target seniors. Here are four common holiday scams that target seniors and how to protect yourself.
Fake Apps and Loyalty Programs
Fraudsters often use compelling offers to convince people that the offerings they find online are legitimate. Once they can convince the audience that their discounts are real, the fraudster uses other tools like a fake app to persuade shoppers. Often, these fake apps are designed to mimic significant retailers and offer substantial discounts. Before downloading any apps, look to see if the business’s name is spelled correctly and whether the app has customer reviews. If there are typos and no reviews, it’s likely fraudulent. Similarly, a retailer you frequent says they want to reward you with a gift card. All you need to do is click a link and provide your information to apply. Though this sounds simple enough, it’s best to ignore these offers. There’s a legitimate chance that these offers are unlikely to be real, and these offers may be an attempt to steal your information.
Many people try to reconnect with family members during the holidays. Scammers have been known to pretend to be a grandchild in trouble. The fraudsters explain they’ve experienced some difficulty, and they need you to send money for bail, legal fees, hospital bills, or some other need. If they’re pretending to be a grandchild, they may stress that you can’t tell their supposed parents. The easiest way to avoid this scam is to take the time to verify the information the fraudster is conveying. Talking to your relatives will quickly expose the fraudster for their scam. Be wary of any request to wire money. Fraudsters will do whatever they can to create a sense of urgency that pressures you into taking quick action. But money is rarely the immediate concern in a medical or legal emergency, and you have time to do your due diligence.
Fake Charity Scams
Many people like to give back during the holidays, and scammers take advantage of this tendency. The scam can work by having someone pose as someone from a reputable charity or solicit donations for a made-up cause. Before you write that check, confirm the charity is legitimate and that your check is going to the right place. Several organizations can make it easier to decide which organizations are trustworthy. Visit a website like the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance and CharityWatch to see if the organization is reputable.
Email scams happen throughout the year, but they also experience an uptick during the holidays. Email scams are ideal for stealing personal information, so seniors should be on guard for emails that come from illegitimate sources. Detecting email scams can be easy if you know where to look. Fake email addresses often have typos and other errors that aren’t easy to notice at first glance. If an email appears to come from a reputable source, but it’s fraudulent, you can often tell by grammar and writing mistakes. Fraudsters find it easy to copy color schemes and logos, but they usually mess up when writing the text for their fake emails. Don’t forget that you can turn in email scammers by sending information to your local law enforcement or the FTC.gov.
It takes time to mind your P’s and Q’s to prevent becoming a victim of financial abuse during the holidays. However, it’s worth the effort to ensure you get the gifts you want without giving information and money to scammers. If you ever run into something online that you’re curious about, be sure to talk to a tech-savvy friend or family member who can help you separate real requests from the ones sent by scammers. You can also look at other financial abuse scams by downloading the Steve Watrel, P.A. Nursing Home Abuse Guide from our website.