With the holidays upon us, there’s a special energy in the air.
Our families are getting ready to visit us (or vice versa) and our shopping lists are growing with each new present we need to buy for friends and loved ones. With so much travel and shopping on the schedule, scammers are waiting to take advantage of consumers who get caught up in the hype of the busiest shopping and travel season of the year.
Seniors are particularly vulnerable to these scams. As the experts at Highya.com pointed out in a recent story about senior scams, the elderly make up more than a quarter of all scam complaints filed with the Federal Trade Commission. While that doesn’t sound like much, it’s important to keep in mind that, just a few years ago, seniors made up 10% of filed scams, the lowest of any age group.
Why the big jump in fraud victims? According to Highya reporter Derek Lakin, there were 45 million Baby Boomers over the age of 65 in 2013. Thieves know this, and they’ve targeted this demographic with their schemes and scams.
“It’s easy to see why the sharp increase in the number of senior scams is so alarming: we now have an entire generation—a huge one, at that—being targeted by crooks,” Lakin wrote, “and like a dynamite explosion, the economic shockwaves are undeniable.”
Another reason why seniors are targeted? They own about 50% of all financial assets in the United States. The money is there for the taking if you aren’t careful.
As for why the elderly are more susceptible to scams, a lot of it has to do with digital literacy. Younger people are more likely to spot a scammy website or inconsistencies within an email.
What are some of the big scams to watch out for this holiday season? We’ve created a list of four to keep your eye on as you shop online and make travel reservations.
Phone Scams: You Must Act Now!
Have you ever been eating dinner, only to be interrupted by a salesman pushing an otherwise uninteresting product on you? You aren’t alone; scammers love targeting seniors – especially women – with phone scams.
These scams take many different forms. This past year, a big fraud tactic was tax-related. A person would call you and say they were from the IRS and were demanding you pay back taxes you didn’t know about. But rather than asking you to pay through the IRS website, they demand the missed payments be placed on a cash card and sent to a particular address.
Other popular scams are health-related – a can’t miss supplement, an amazing cure for cancer and other “can’t-miss” products.
Though the products and methods may very, these phone scams have one thing in common – you’re made to feel like you don’t have much time to make a decision and that you must act now.
“When you send money to people you do not know personally or give personal or financial information to unknown callers, you increase your chances of becoming a victim of telemarketing fraud,” the FBI’s telemarketing fraud page says.
Holiday Happiness: I Love You…Can You Give Me Money?
While magical, the holidays can make single folks feel lonely. According to MarketWatch, dating apps experience a spike in users during the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.
The classic sign that you’re involved in a scam relationship is money – your love-struck mate will tell you they’ve run into some hard times and need money. You oblige; after all, you’re in love and it feels amazing.
Later, however, you find out it was all a ruse. You sent hundreds or thousands of dollars to your beau or beauty only to have them disappear on you. In 2011, Highya.com reports, scammers stole $50 million via dating websites and apps, averaging out to about $9,000 per victim.
Continuing the Series Next Month
In a perfect world, scams wouldn’t exist and we’d never have to feel the sting of betrayal and/or embarrassment that comes with being hoodwinked.
Unfortunately, that’s not the world we live in. Thieves and scammers prey on the elderly with a level of arrogance and greed that seems to be growing every year. We want to equip you to identify and reject these scams, so come back next month to learn more about commons scams you’ll probably encounter during the holiday season.
This Lifestyle Health Care Blog is proudly sponsored by SKIN GUARDS.