Staying Alert to Holiday Scams

Holiday are often a time when we spend a little extra on family, friends or give charitably to make the season warm and bright but it is also a time when scammers become their most active and take advantage of a spirit of generosity.  Emails seem rife with questionable ploys to gain your trust or even access to your online accounts and telemarketing for charitable donations may be suspect.  It’s important to stay alert for scammers, especially for sometimes vulnerable older adults.

While some scams may seem rather obvious, others, like up-selling services to seniors who don’t fully understand what they are purchasing are also on the rise.   Does grandma, who only watches the news and a couple of regular shows, really need an expensive TV, internet or home phone bundle? 

Phone scams, funeral scams, fake anti-aging products, internet fraud, investment schemes, reverse mortgages scams, sweepstakes scams and the classic grandparent scam are all among the top 10 scams of 2017 that target seniors.   The grandparent scam is especially effective because it plays on the generous nature of grandparents towards their grandchildren.  In this fraud, scammers pose as a grandchild who asks for money to be wired for rent or car repairs, requesting that their parents not to be informed or they will get trouble.  It’s a low cost, easy scam that can occur repeatedly before anyone is the wiser.

To stay current with the most recent scam alerts, visit the Better Business Bureau’s website here for the most recently reported scams in Canada and the United States.

How to Protect Yourself

  • Ask solicitors for something in writing
  • Take a name, number, address and business license number from any salesperson
  • Shred receipts with credit card numbers
  • Sign up for the Do Not Call list
  • Use Direct Deposit for all checks including benefits
  • Have mail held until you can collect it when away from home, don’t let mail sit in a mailbox
  • Never give personal or financial information over the phone

In the United States, visit the Federal Trade Commission to register for the Do Not Call List and to report unwanted calls here.   In Canada follow this link to the National Do Not Call List registry.