In the U.S., it is estimated that elderly Americans lose 3 billion dollars to scams, and one out of ten adults become a victim of fraud each year. Learning about scams is the only way to keep your guard up and stay safe. Once you can recognize the common ways of scammers, you are more likely to be able to avoid them entirely. This is a breakdown of each type of scam that you may encounter, and the steps to take if you ever become a victim.
In this type of con, scammers will pretend to be from organizations like the IRS, Social Security Administration, law enforcement, etc. You will be able to tell a scam from a legitimate organization by what information they ask for, and how urgent the scammer makes the situation seem. Organizations will never ask for PIN’s, passwords, bank codes, or any other private information. They will also not threaten immediate consequences. True organizations have a process they must stick to before taking any action.
Fake Receipts and Charges
Scammers will send you a receipt that looks like it comes from a store like Amazon or eBay. The receipt will be for something you never bought, and there will be a link to dispute the charge. If you are to click that link, most likely, your computer will be infected with a virus. In some cases, it will take you to a website leading you to put in banking information, a credit card number, etc.
For obvious reasons, this is more likely to happen to seniors, however, it could happen to anyone. In this circumstance, the scammer will call and say they are a relative, for example, a grandchild, and claim they are in trouble and need money- usually for bail or medical expenses. If you receive a call like this, the best thing to do is to hang up and contact that relative to get confirmation. Your second option is to start asking the scammer questions that only that relative would know the answer to.
Tech Support Scams
Senior computer users are most likely to become victims of this. According to the Federal Trade Commission, people over 60 are 371% more likely to lose money in a tech support scam. Usually, the person will claim that your computer has a virus and offer to fix it. Once you agree to this, the scammer can then ask for payment for service, gain control of your computer, or request personal information to steal your identity.
If you become a victim of a scam, there are steps you need to take to protect yourself against identity theft and prevent the scammers from opening lines of credit in your name.
First, you will need to contact each of the three major credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) to individually freeze your credit with each of them. To freeze your credit, you will need your name, any previous names (if applicable), address, date of birth, and social security number. You will also possibly be questioned on any previous addresses and/or credit accounts.
Unfreezing your credit is just as simple. You will be given a PIN when you freeze your credit. To unfreeze your credit, you will be asked for that PIN. If you do not have it, you will be asked some challenging questions about personal information to prove it is you. If you choose to unfreeze your credit through mail, you will need to send in documentation, for example, a driver’s license to prove your identity.
While you may never become a victim of a fraud, this is useful information to have. Technology is evolving, and so are scams. If you know anyone that is at risk to fall for a scam, send them this article- it may help them out one day!