A person calls, emails, texts, pays a visit to your home, or messages you and they appear knowledgeable, helpful, professional, and kind. They have a solution or opportunity to offer, have claims of being from an official agency, are going to help you with a difficult task, or they are offering to protect someone you love who is now in perceived trouble. It is an urgent matter, and no time can be wasted!
Unfortunately, this is not always as helpful as it may seem. According to the FBI, every year millions of adults (and especially older adults) fall victim to financial fraud and scams.
Many scams are built on a factor of trust. This may include pretending to be a relative in schemes such as the “grandparent scam” requesting funds be immediately sent to help assist a family member in need.
One may receive a call that seems to come from an agency such as Medicare, the IRS, the CDC, the local police, or Social Security with an attempt to attain identity-based information, account information, settle a claim, etc.
Another popular scam is someone posing as a potential romantic interest in person or virtually and using that perceived relationship to obtain money or information.
Sometimes people will fall victim to scams involving false emails, tech support offerings, or investments that assist scammers in gaining access to personal or account information.
And, unfortunately, there are some scams that are more personal and involve people that have real relationships with an individual (such as a family member, friend, fellow church member, etc.) to gain trust and use the power of that relationship for their own selfish personal, legal, or financial gains.
It is important to pause and question each request. If there is pressure or urgency to provide access or funds, pause. If there is a request for a certain amount of money in gift cards, pause. If there is a call from a government agency, pause. If there is an urgent call from someone because your family member needs immediate financial support, pause.
Talk to those that you trust about what is being requested. Call the agencies that this person or the letter is representing to check if request is valid. Stop communication with the entities until you know more. Be cautious of numbers that you do not recognize, emails which may be questionable, or people who are taking a new interest. Prevention is the best protection against potential scams or scammers!