Scammers have been around for as long as anyone can remember, and it is a sad fact that many victims are elderly. Every year criminals come up with new and more advanced techniques and tactics to scam their potential victims. There is nothing that can protect us 100% from the schemers and scammers of the world, but there are simple steps that we can take to try to protect ourselves and our family members from these crimes.
1. Do not give out personal information to any organizations or people before verifying their credentials.
Forms of personal information can be your name, address, bank account information, social security number
2. Shred this information
When you are finished with them destroy any sheets of paper that has personal information on it, bank statements, receipts- anything that if taken can help a criminal steal your identity. Identity fraudsters do not need much information in order to be able to clone your identity. If you can shred this information that is the preferable way to destroy it.
3. Do not call any numbers listed in email
Many frauds happen over the internet. It is important to remember that banks and other financial institutions will not send you an email asking you to click a link to confirm your account details. Even if they look legitimate, these emails cannot be trusted. Always call your bank or financial institution if you feel suspicious about an email you have received. Do not call any numbers listed on the email. Always call using the phone number that you know to be genuine of that bank or business.
4. Make sure your computer has up to date anti-virus protection
Make sure your computer has up to date anti-virus protection and a firewall installed. Enable the highest level of security notification and monitoring to help prevent internet crimes. Sometimes your internet provider may include virus protection and security in their package. Make sure to ask.
5. If you receive invoices, bills, or receipts for items you have not purchased, take action
If you receive invoices, bills, or receipts for items you have not purchased, or statements from financial institutions you do not normally conduct business with you will need to take action. If this happens there is a chance that your identity may have been stolen and you need to investigate immediately. There is no time to wait as this gives the criminals more opportunities to make purchases in your name, while you could be left responsible for the aftermath.
6. Be extremely wary of social media posts or messages, phone calls or emails offering you business deals
Be extremely wary of social media posts or messages, phone calls or emails offering you business deals out of the blue. If it seems too good to be true it most likely is. It is okay to question these things when they happen. The old adage “It’s better safe than sorry” is true to these cases.
7. Beware of anyone calling and pretending to be law enforcement, a lawyer, the IRS or any government agency.
They may tell you that you have a debt to pay and you will be arrested if you do not pay immediately over the phone. No government agency will ever call you and say that they have a warrant for your arrest. If that were the case, you would most likely have had an officer at your doorstep. These scammers call people and instill fear in them by telling them they will be arrested if they don’t pay up immediately. They will not always ask for money. Sometimes they will call and ask for the payment to be made in the form of gift cards. Once you give the gift card information to them your money is gone, and there is no chance of getting it back. If you are contacted in this manner, gather the phone number that called you and what they said and notify your local police department.
8. Be leary of anyone coming to the door wanting to speak with you about insurance or other personal business.
In most cities anyone who is coming door to door is required to have a business license. Having a business license insures that they are credible. Always ask to see a business license. If they do not have one and you feel uncomfortable with them at your home, call the police.
IRS scams are a big one, especially this time of year. Every year the IRS releases a summary of the “Dirty Dozen” a list of tax scams people have encountered. Take some time to read about them and get to know them so you do not become a victim of one.
9. Beware of people who call from out of the blue claiming to be financial investors trying to persuade you how and where to invest your money.
If you are truly interested in investing your money, please visit with someone reputable. Ask someone you trust like a family member or close friend to help you do some research.
Keep in close contact with your family members and help them to be aware of the latest scams on the news. Share articles like this with your family and friends. Identity theft and fraud can cause a lifetime of pain and financial hardship. We do not want anyone to fall victim to a scammer. If you think that you have found yourself in a situation where you have been the victim of a scam, call your local law enforcement immediately.