Happening Now: Situational Scams to Avoid

As times are uncertain and enforcement efforts might be focused elsewhere, scammers go the extra mile to take advantage of people, including seniors. When the world around us appears to be chaotic, people may allow themselves to become more vulnerable to fraudulent phone calls or transactions, and many give out their personal information to the wrong people. Scammers have many tactics to invade peoples’ privacy and profit from their assets, so it is crucial to familiarize yourself with how to avoid becoming a victim.

Fraud Techniques to Know About
Scammers who contact you directly are imposters who often pretend to be government officials from Medicare, Social Security and more. In 2019, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received more reports of imposter scams than any other type of fraud. Imposters will attempt to access your personal information (Social Security number, bank accounts and passwords to online accounts) in order to take any stimulus funds allotted to you from the government. They may offer fake relief resources – insurance, protection or vaccines and cures – in exchange for your money or information, leaving you empty-handed. To avoid falling into any of these unwanted situations, you should always obtain the person’s name and the organization they claim to be from, and do additional research.

With our nation’s current health care concerns, a common scam involves phony medical testing, fake test kits or fake products to treat or prevent an illness. Scammers advertise these products by claiming they are medical grade, but the results are inaccurate and illegitimate. In many cases, once the transaction is processed, the scammers do not even send a product to the buyer. Another common medical-related scam is a donation or charity scam. These occur when a scammer claims to be raising money for those effected by a health crisis but simply pockets your donation for themselves. Some scammers use names that sound a lot like real charities, which is why it is crucial to do research and ask questions before giving.

You want to be constantly aware of possible phishing scams, which take the form of emails or text messages that look like they’re from a bank, credit card company, social media website, an app or an online store. These messages will have a title that pertains to recent events; they usually contain a link that advertises financial aid or information about a special subscription offer. However, by clicking on this link you could potentially be granting scammers access to your personal information and finances. To avoid becoming a victim of a phishing scam, do not click on links in emails or texts you weren’t expecting to receive.

Protect Your Assets
To help you stay safe, the Federal Trade Commission offers a section on its website with information about recent scams, how to recognize the warning signs and more resources. Here are some important facts to remember:

  • Your bank, or the IRS, will never contact you to collect your personal information.
  • You will never have to click through links or attachments to get stimulus checks because they will come directly to your bank account (if you have direct deposit).
  • Never open emails that claim to be from the IRS.
  • If someone is threatening you, it is a scam.
  • Do not donate to unsolicited callers.
  • The government will not ask you to pay them to receive your stimulus money.

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