Frauds and scams can take many forms, and that’s one of the things that makes them so hard to detect. Your aging loved ones can be scammed on or offline, via the phone (cell or landline), snail-mail, door to door, etc. MoneyAdviceServices.org wrote a great article that will help you learn more about what signs you should look out for so that you, or your loved ones, can prevent a scam before it’s too late! Here are some of the suggestions that I found most useful.
- A Company Contacts You Out of the Blue. If a company you’ve never dealt with before is contacting you out of the blue and is asking you for money – be very wary. To ensure they are who they say, go to their official website, call the number from listed and determine if it is legitimate (don’t use any contact details the original caller has given you). If it’s a financial services company, check the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to confirm they are legitimate. If it turns out the company is genuine, the operator can forward you back to the person you were talking to, and if not – they have been made aware that someone is using their brand in a fraudulent manner.
- You’ve Been Rejected for Credit. If you’ve always had excellent credit, but suddenly you’re being rejected, there’s a good chance that someone has assumed your identity and is pretending to be you to steal money, goods or services. In order to be able to act quickly if something is awry, it’s always worth checking your credit report (at least monthly) to make sure fraudsters aren’t submitting false applications for credit in your name.
- You’re Being Rushed. No legitimate company will rush you into a decision to hand over sensitive information or make you fork out money with an unreasonable deadline. Scammers like to instill a sense of fear or urgency as a tactic to bully you into action, so you don’t have time to ask for help or think through a purchase.
- You’re Being Asked for Your PIN Number. A bank will never ask you for your PIN number or any other online banking passwords. If at any point you become suspicious of someone saying they are from your bank, hang up and call them back from a number the official bank website has written on its ‘contact us’ page.
- Lots of Misspellings and Bad Grammar. Most emails from major companies are proofread and checked. If an email claiming to come from someone in a position of power arrives with lots of spelling and grammatical errors, be suspicious. Scammers don’t necessarily have a good education, or maybe come from a different country – therefore, they might not have the language skills you would expect.
- The Website Doesn’t Have a Secure Link. It’s really easy to be fooled by a fake website as scammers can fake an official-looking email, using the same logo and email design as the real company. When using web pages, you need to make sure the site has a secure link. The easiest way to do this to check if there’s a padlock symbol in the browser. Does the link start with ‘https://’? The ‘s’ stands for secure – stay away from any site that doesn’t have it!
- You Have a Virus. Scammers use computer viruses to gain access to your computer details, which allows them to steal your identity and money. They may also get into your WIFI network for the same reason. Viruses are small computer programs that try and infect other computers, tablets, and smartphones. Once they’re in your computer, they spread from one device to another, usually by a dodgy link or download. They can secretly monitor your computer activity, scan for passwords, and even take control of your computer.