Countless scams and fraud schemes are ongoing every day. Last year, 33 Million Americans lost money to a scam -- roughly 1 in 6 adults. Most Americans have received calls or emails from suspicious sources claiming to need personally identifiable information or access to their accounts or computers. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for many adults to detect fraud or scams, especially as new scam tactics emerge.
While consumers of all ages can be victims of fraud, statistics show that most scammers target people in their 30s or seniors over the age of 60. Criminals often choose young adults as they are extremely active on digital devices and use a myriad of apps increasing their attack surface. Scammers also often choose seniors as targets because they are more likely to have life savings stored away and because they may be less aware of scam schemes and less able to fend them off. However, consumers of every age should be aware of how to spot and prevent fraud.
1. Familiarize yourself with common scams.
2. Know which kinds of personal information will NEVER be requested over the phone or over email.
3. Get a second opinion before sending money or giving out personally identifiable information.
There are countless ways that scammers may try to get you to divulge personal information. Some of the most common are government imposter scams, relative scams, and Medicaid and healthcare scams, tech support scams, and email phishing scams. Learning more about each scam can prevent seniors from losing money to fraud.
Government imposter scams usually involve a caller impersonating a representative of the IRS, Immigration & Customs Enforcement, Medicare, VA, or Social Security Office. Scammers will often claim that there are outstanding taxes to be paid, that you are at risk of deportation, or that you are at risk of losing medical care or coverage. These callers will often request personal identification information like your social security number, credit card number, or bank information.
Email phishing scams are becoming increasingly common, and increasingly hard to spot. Common phishing email examples include:
Recognizing common scams is the first step in protecting yourself against them. It's ok to be skeptical, even if the call or email seems legitimate. Scammers often create a sense of urgency by making it seem like something bad will happen if you don't click a link or give them information. This is often an easy way to sniff out a scam. Another way to spot a scam is when a caller or email asks you for certain personal information.
No matter how legitimate a call or email seems, there are certain types of personal information that you should never give out.
When you receive a call that you were not expecting or didn't initiate and the caller asks for any of this information, it's likely a scam. Once this information is out there, there's no telling what a scammer will do with the information and how long it will take before you know something is wrong. Many institutions that would require this information (insurance companies, banks, etc) already have this information and would usually only have you verify the last few digits.
Before sending money or giving out personal information, it's always good to double verify. If you get a call from your bank asking for account information or an email asking you to click a link, call, and double-check. Make sure that the number you call is the same as on the institution's website and not the same number that called you or the phone number listed in the email. If you get an email you're unsure about from work or a friend, call them and double-check that they actually sent it. Being hasty and giving out personal information right away is never a smart idea. It is always a good idea to go directly to the legitimate website/location/phone number of the business the call/email claims to be from to verify.
When you receive an email that asks you to respond with information, click a link, or take any other action first scan the email for red flags. Watch for misspellings, poor grammar, inconsistencies between email addresses, links, domain names, and anything else that feels off to you. If the email seems legitimate but you're not 100% sure, go directly to the business's website instead of clicking the link to visit the site. Never respond to scam emails, simply block the sender and delete the email. Spam and virus blocking software is always a good idea as an extra layer of protection.
If your phone has caller ID and the caller is marked as "potential spam", let it go to voicemail. If you answer a call that you think may be a scam don't give out or confirm any personal information. Hang up as soon as possible and block the number. You can also register your phone number with the FCC on the Do Not Call list to prevent calls from telemarketers and other unwanted robocalls. If you think a call may be legitimate, take down their name and number and verify the callers' legitimacy through the organization they claim to be with.
If you notice unusual activity on your accounts or think you've fallen victim to a scam, we're here to help. Fill out the form below with as much information as possible. Someone from our team will contact you to discuss the situation.
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