Statistically, older adults are much more vulnerable to be a victim of a scam than any other age group, due mostly to trusting the wrong person. Due to our propensity to be more trusting, older adults are the prime targets for theft in the form of a scam. If you know what to look out for, you’ll be more equipped to protect yourself from falling into any of these common traps:
IRS Impersonator — This scam takes place over the phone when an IRS impersonator will call with the message that you owe the IRS a large sum in back taxes and if you do not pay them — often with gift cards — legal action will be taken against you immediately. Often, they will be able to have “IRS” show up on caller ID in an attempt to justify their legitimacy.
How to Avoid It: First of all, please know that the Internal Revenue Service of the United States will NEVER call you. This agency will only communicate with you via letter delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. If you do find yourself on the phone with one of these people and they sound legitimate, tell them you’ll call them back and hang up. Next, call the IRS at 800-829-1040 and they will be able to verify if anyone had attempted to contact you via phone for any reason.
Political Scammer — In our increasingly charged political climate, the political scammer is becoming more prominent and harder to spot. This scam happens when someone calls you up and identifies themselves as a representative for a political party, candidate or specific issue. If you are aligned with their views, of course you’re interested in financially backing the cause–but you can never know for sure if this person is actually who they say they are. You’re not only vulnerable to losing the money you donate, but you also give up your personal credit card information.
How to Avoid It: Never give your credit card information over the phone if you can avoid it. If there’s an instance where it’s most convenient to provide the info over the phone to a company you do business with, ask for a callback number so you can verify the person’s affiliation before giving your personal information. If you’re online, snoop around on their website to ensure that the they are authentic.
Fake Lottery — This one is especially heartbreaking for the most vulnerable group of people, older adults. Who doesn’t love free money? But how often does free money come along? Exactly. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. For this scam, someone will call or email you and tell you that you’ve won the lottery and all you have to do to claim your money, is pay insurance and/or claims fees.
How to Avoid It: This. Will. Never. Happen. No one will ever reach out to tell you that you’ve won the lottery and then ask you to pay a fee before you can have verification of the actual win. If you think that you may have actually won something, the person or organization should have no problem providing further information and proof of entry to you, prior to paying any possible fees. The majority of the time, it’s just best to ignore the email or hang up.
Charity Scammer — Like political scammers, charity scammers are difficult to spot because so many legitimate charities also use the phone and email to solicit donations from supporters in their database. You’ll receive a call or email from what seems like a credible charity, looking for financial support for their cause.
How to Avoid It: The best thing to remember is if it is a legitimate organization, they will have no problem giving you a callback number to reach them directly and confirm their identity. If you aren’t sure about the legitimacy of an email sender, click through one of the links within the email to confirm that it came from the actual organization before donating anything. There should also be a phone number listed on the website for donations as well.
At Henry Ford Village, you have a better chance of staying on top of current trends and topics by joining one of the many social groups, casually chatting with neighbors or watching the daily news, produced by residents themselves.