With the holiday season upon us, this busy time of year is spent shopping, wrapping gifts, baking cookies, and visiting with families and friends we may not see often enough. Unfortunately, the holidays also represent a time of year when con artists and scammers do their best to take advantage of your hectic schedule and big hearts.
It’s a sad fact that seniors often fall victim to scams targeting them. Maybe you grew up in a time when business was more often conducted with a handshake than a signed contract. Or, maybe you’re more trusting than you should be, whether due to memory issues or loneliness. Plus, around the holidays, everyone tends to be more charitable than at other times of the year, making it that much easier for scammers to take advantage of your generosity.
5 Common Scams Targeting Seniors and How to Stay Vigilant
Arm yourself with information to avoid falling victim to a senior scam. Here are five of the top scams targeting seniors, and how to stay vigilant to protect yourself:
- The Grandparents Scam. One of the most common scams targeting seniors, especially over the holiday months, is when a scammer will call an older adult and pose as a grandchild in some sort of dire straits, asking for money to be wired electronically. These desperate calls are designed to catch you off guard, but it’s important to resist the urge to act impulsively. Instead, ask for a number the person can be reached at, then hang up and call other family members to see if anyone has any further information. Also keep in mind that a loved one probably would not ask for money to be electronically wired to them.
- Investment, Sweepstakes or Lottery Scams. When you’re saving for retirement, it can be easy to get swayed by offers that seem to protect your cash for the future. However, keep in mind that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Only deal with credible organizations when it comes to your investments, and don’t buy into those “deal of a lifetime” types of offers. The same goes for sweepstakes or lottery scams. It’s a huge red flag when you are alerted that you won a prize, but need to send in a payment to receive it.
- Telemarketing or Email Scams. Similar to investment or lottery scams, con artists will contact you via phone or email to send money through an organization like Western Union, leading you to believe a fortune awaits once they receive your payment. Scammers have also gotten very good at mimicking your bank or financial institution, and will send an email looking like it’s from your bank asking you for your PIN or other personal information. Never give out any personal information without verifying the legitimacy of the request first. When in doubt, call the organization directly.
- Fraudulent Gift Cards. A particularly nasty scam involves gift cards, and while this con can affect everyone buying gift cards, it’s especially important for seniors, who often mail these to loved ones over the holidays, to be aware of it. The scammer will take down information on the back of a gift card, then contact the business shortly after to find out if the card has been activated. If it has, they’ll quickly shop online and use up all the funds before the recipient of the card has made their first purchase. Always buy gift cards from reputable stores and look for any signs that it may have been tampered with.
- Charity Scams. Around the holidays, another popular senior scam is to attempt to take advantage of your desire to give to those less fortunate. Scammers call requesting donations, claiming to be from such-and-such charity (which doesn’t actually exist), or they may even say they’re calling from an established organization. Before pulling out your checkbook, do some research and make sure the charity is legitimate. Better yet, if you’re feeling charitable this holiday season, it’s advisable to go ahead and contact the organization yourself.
Live Life Fully at Symphony Senior Living
Enjoy the highest quality assisted living at Symphony, where you or your loved one will receive compassionate care from an experienced team in a comfortable environment you’ll be proud to call home. We invite you to discover what life at Symphony is like; contact us today to learn more about our supportive senior living options.