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Romance is the New Way to Scam Seniors

Why You Should Never Retire According to a Neuroscientist

Fake online romances aren’t just for younger people. They’re now happening to older people too. Scam artists are not only using online dating sites but social media platforms as well. Seniors are particularly vulnerable to these scams because they are more likely to be seeking companionship, and people are using that to scam seniors.

Romance is the New Way to Scam Seniors

Romance is the New Way to Scam Seniors

 

There is a pretty standard formula when it comes to romance scams. They contact you on whichever website you meet them on, they chat with you for a little bit, and then they ask to move away from the site. They do this by asking to talk through text, phone calls, or other messaging apps.

They do this for more intimacy and less security monitoring that public sites offer. It creates an atmosphere of trust with the victim.

Then the formula continues with a tragic personal story, saying they’re in love early on in the relationship and the scammer living far away.

Then come the photos. You exchange pictures and start to feel like you really know the person. Except, the photo is fake. Usually, it’s some stock photo or stolen from social media. You may not even be talking to a single person, but instead a group of people that take shifts speaking to you.

Another part of the formula is that they always make excuses not to meet you in person. They may agree to a date and then at the last minute cancel because of some kind of emergency. They could say it’s work, family, or some other type of emergency.

Scam artists don’t start the actual scam until a few weeks or months into the relationship. Once they’re ready, they begin by asking for a small amount of money. Then the amount will slowly increase over time. They will use gift cards instead of cash or checks because they are untraceable and easy to get.

Reports show that romance scams are costly and increasing. In 2019, there were 25,000 complaints, and it’s thought that this type of scam is under-reported. People lost $201 million in 2019. That’s more than victims that lost to fake lotteries, sweepstakes, imposter frauds, or tech support scams.

If you or anyone else have had this happen to you, report them to the F.T.C or the F.B.I. Also, treat victims with care. A lot of emotional trauma happens when someone is involved in this kind of scam.

Read more here.

Be Wary of Scams involving the Coronavirus

Be Wary of Scams involving the Coronavirus

Everyone’s worried about the Coronavirus, and scam artists are taking advantage of that. From “Silver Solution” to “anti-Coronavirus” toothpaste, people need to be aware of scams involving the Coronavirus. The Justice Department has already done its first enforcement action on these scams.

Be Wary of Scams involving the Coronavirus

Be Wary of Scams involving the Coronavirus

 

Earlier in March, the FTC and the Food and Drug Administration gave warnings to seven companies selling things they claimed could treat or prevent the virus.

A major scam involved “The Jim Bakker Show,” they advertised a colloidal silver called “Silver Solution” that he claimed cured the virus. They were already involved in a lawsuit from the state of Missouri and was sent a cease-and-desist letter from the New York attorney general’s office. Bakker was forced to stop selling the product on his website and Facebook.

New York’s attorney general also sent a cease-and-desist to Alex Jones, who was selling anti-coronavirus toothpaste on his radio show and website, Infowars.

Disaster fraud, this style of scam, always comes up every time a natural or human-made crisis happens. They come in a variety of different forms. There can fake charitable solicitation, especially with crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe.

Identity theft is also common because people are unsure who to give their information to.

There’s also price-gouging on essentials like hand sanitizer and toilet paper happening.

Make sure to keep an eye out for you and your loved ones.

Read more here.

Taxi Driver Saves Senior from Being Scammed Out of $25,000

Taxi Driver Saves Senior from Being Scammed Out of $25,000

The senior population is notoriously vulnerable to scam artists. In California, a taxi driver thought something was wrong when his older passenger said she needed a ride to take out $25,000. By listening and caring, he saved the senior from being scammed out of a large amount of money.

Taxi Driver Saves Senior from Being Scammed Out of $25,000

Taxi Driver Saves Senior from Being Scammed Out of $25,000

 

Rajbir Singh, the taxi driver, picked up a 92-year-old woman and started to talk to her. She told him that she had to settle a debt with the IRS and told him about the large amount of money she planned to take out.

He warned her that it might be a scam. As the 92-year-old passenger chatted with him, she told Singh that someone called her and asked for money. He asked if it was a family member.

It turns out it wasn’t, and she gave Singh the number of the person who claimed to be an IRS employee. When he called, the person said they didn’t know the woman. When Singh pressed the phony employee, they ended up hanging up on him and blocked him.

She still wasn’t convinced it was a scam, so Singh convinced her to stop by a police station to talk to them. The police agreed that it was most likely a scam.

Singh is an incredible man because, at any point, he could have given up and let her go on her way. He didn’t, though.

The IRS scam is one of the most common that the senior population has to be wary of. In another article, we discuss the top ten scams to be aware of.

Read more about this incredible story here.

Facebook Could Be Advertising Scams and Not Even Know It

Facebook Could Be Advertising Scams and Not Even Know It

Facebook is a great way to connect with friends and family that are far away. In fact, older Americans use Facebook more than any other age group, and scammers know it. Recently, a precious metal scam cheated many older adults, and the worst part, Facebook was advertising scams and didn’t know it.

Facebook Could Be Advertising Scams and Not Even Know It

Facebook Could Be Advertising Scams and Not Even Know It

 

Targeted ads are popping up more on all forms of social media, and some can be more aggressive than others. In particular, a precious metals scam targeted conservative seniors. The ads were created to scare people into buying precious metals to protect their future.

Instead of protecting their future, many seniors were cheated out of their retirement savings. Most of the ads led people to a site called Metals.com, a business that sells gold and silver coins at high markups.

Worst of all, Facebook showed the ads 45 million times even though Facebook claimed that the ads broke their rules.

Metals.com is under investigation for fraud and other related charges, but it’s unknown how much Facebook is involved.

How Facebook Ads Work

 

Facebook has an ad targeting system that allows companies to find their perfect customers through specifications like hobbies, location, and marital status. It’s easy for Facebook to do this because, in some ways, you give the information yourself by just being you.

While Facebook doesn’t sell your information, it does chop your information into segments and sell those segments. Segments can be based on age, gender, political leaning, and the wealth of your neighborhood.

This system has made billions for Facebook, but it appears the company struggles with controlling what goes out into the world.

While it makes legit companies find customers easier, it also makes scammers find their targets is easier too. Somehow Metals.com was able to funnel people to their site without triggering Facebook’s rules.

The ads for Metals.com used Facebook’s system to their advantage. They limited the ads to Americans fifty-nine and older. Why? Because they are the people whose money can be moved out of retirement accounts easily and are more afraid for their future.

Then they asked Facebook to show the ads to users in a handful of political segments, targeting those who categorized themselves as conservative or very conservative. It also targeted those who had interested in the Republican party or conservative media personalities.

By being able to narrow down their range of targets, the scammers got their cake and eat it too. They were able to be out in the world enough to find their targets, but still not get caught right away.

While Facebook always develops improvements to their system, it seems like people can take advantage of their system, and Facebook won’t even know it.

Read more about the scam and how Facebook ads work here.

Tech Support Scam Takes $10 Million From Seniors

Be Wary of Scams involving the Coronavirus

The Department of Justice has arrested two people, Romana Leyva and Ariful Haque, for a tech support scam that has taken millions from older adults. They convinced people, mostly seniors, that they needed tech and virus protections that weren’t real.

Tech Support Scam Takes $10 Million From Seniors

Tech Support Scam Takes $10 Million From Seniors

 

Between March 2015 and December 2018, Leyva and Haque were scamming people in the US and Canada. They would target people with pop-up windows that said their computer had been infected with a virus. They then told the victims to call a number for tech support.

Sometimes the pop-up message would say that if they closed the window or turned their computer off, it would ruin their device or lose all their data.

So concerned people called the number and were connected with a fake technician. To get the victim to pay, the phony technician would load an anti-virus tool that you can get for free online and tell the victim they have a virus.

The scammers convinced people to pay hundreds, even thousands, of dollars to fix the fake virus. Some people were even contacted again by these scammers and paid them even more money.

There was a total of 7,500 victims and $10 million stolen altogether.

Read more here.

Genetic Testing is a New Form of Health Fraud

Genetic Testing is a New Form of Health Fraud

Genetic screening reps have appeared at health fairs and senior communities to talk to seniors. They have a pretty sweet offer, find out if you or your family are at risk of developing cancer by doing a free cheek swab. As the old saying goes, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Investigators are saying that genetic testing is a new form of health fraud.

Genetic Testing is a New Form of Health Fraud

 

Genetic Testing is a New Form of Health Fraud

 

Genetic testing is bringing millions of dollars a year in unnecessary tests that target seniors. The Department of Health and Human Services has seen an increase in calls complaining about these tests. In 2018, they only got one or two calls a week. 2019 shows them getting as many as fifty calls a week.

More than three hundred investigations are working on genetic testing fraud schemes. The investigations started when people noticed unusual Medicare billing data patterns that began in 2015.

Medicare payouts for genetic tests jumped from 480 million in 2015, to 1.1 billion in 2018. These numbers don’t include any Medicaid payouts either.

What makes it a scam, though?

Marketers get seniors to turn over their Medicare or Medicaid info, then they will get a free cheek swab that will help them understand their risks and health secrets. Doctors sign off on the tests, and the genetic companies rake in the money.

The thing is, many of the tests aren’t relevant to the patient’s history. Sometimes doctors sign off on these tests without talking to the patient, either because there isn’t enough time or possibly getting a cut of the money from the genetic company.

Seniors get little to no benefits from these tests.

How to Prevent Getting Scammed

With the rise of many different genetic companies becoming mainstream, it’s easy to get scammed. Make sure that your doctor is the one that orders the test and don’t respond to any companies offering a test for free.

Read more here.

10 Ways to Protect You and Your Loved Ones From Scams

Government is Taking on Robocalls

We’ve talked a lot about scams targeting seniors, but not much on how to protect them. Sadly, seniors are prime targets for con artists. This is because they are easy to confuse and aren’t as connected to the world as younger adults. What you might think is an obvious scam, a senior could take seriously. Here are 10 ways to protect you and your loved ones from scams.

10 Ways to Protect You and Your Loved Ones From Scams

10 Ways to Protect You and Your Loved Ones From Scams

 

1. Be Wary of “Emergency” Calls

One of the biggest scams involves a senior’s loved one being in an emergency. This is to pressure the senior and cause them panic. Attempt to get a phone number to call back and check the whereabouts and safety of your loved one who’s in danger. It’s a scam if they refuse to give you either.

2. Protect Your Identity

Never, never, give out your Social Security number, Medicare, and financial account info over the phone.

3. Don’t Answer the Phone

If you don’t know the phone number, don’t answer it.

4. Don’t Confirm Personal Information

Try not to say yes to any question asked of you when asked about personal info. The calls may be recorded, and your “yes” can be used to buy purchases you don’t want.

5. Don’t Press Any Numbers

Don’t do it even to stop calls. It can increase the number of robocalls you get. It shows scammers that they found an active number.

6. Change Your Voicemail

Change the message so that it doesn’t reveal your name or other personal info. If you want a legitimate caller to know they called you, you can leave your number in the message.

7. Don’t Return Calls that Claim to Be From the Authorities

Places like the IRS, Social Security Administration, bank, or local police or sheriff’s department usually don’t just leave a voicemail. If you think the call is legitimate, don’t call the number left on the voicemail, instead, look up the number to see if it matches.

8. Do Not Call Registry

You can register both your landline and cellphone numbers on the Do Not Call Registry.

9. Report Robocalls

You can report unwanted calls with the FTC by phone at (888) 382-1222 or (877) 382-4357 or online.

10. Use FCC Tips

The FCC has tips on how to stop unwanted calls.

Read more here.

Top 10 Retirement Scams

Top 10 Retirement Scams

As much as you like to imagine everyone is good, there are people in the world that steal. They do this through scams. Scams can hurt anyone at any age. They can rob people of all their savings. Keep an eye for these 10 retirement scams.

Top 10 Retirement Scams

Top 10 Retirement Scams

 

According to the Federal Trade Commission data, there were 1.1 million frauds reported. 21% of the victims suffered a financial loss. It totaled $905 million, that’s an average $429 a person.

People who are close to retiring tend to lose more money than any other age group.

1. Medicare Card Scams

Right now the federal government is working on replacing all Medicare cards with new ones. This is because the old ones have Social Security numbers on them.

This makes it easy for identity theft to happen.

Everyone should have a new card by April 2019

The problem with this is that phone scammers are using this as an opportunity to defraud Medicare recipients. The FTC is getting reports that various scam tactics like callers claiming to be Medicare representatives are asking to verify personal information to people and offering to send you a new card for a fee. The real cards are paper and have no fee.

One other type is someone calls and says that your old card has a balance that needs to be put on the new one. Of course, you have to give your account and routing numbers.

2. Social Security Suspension Scams

A scam the FTC is seeing a lot are phone calls from someone claiming to be with the Social Security Administration. They tell you your Social Security number has been suspended. They can claim it’s due to possible criminal activity.

They will sound very convincing.

They will claim that all you have to do get to your SS number back is give the caller your personal info, including the details of the bank account where your benefits are being deposited.

The real SS Administration is not going to call you and say your benefits are suspended. Instead open an online account with Social Security.

3. Gift Card Scams

The National Consumers League’s site, Fraud.org, has reported a spike in fraud involving gift cards. Thieves are stealing the numbers, including the scratch off codes while they’re still hanging on the sales rack in stores.

Once the card is purchased and activated at the register, they drain it of its value by making purchases. There’s software that will help them see the balance and be alerted when the card is activated.

Only buy cards that are in secure packaging. Or buy electronic gifts cards that get delivered by email.

4. Sweepstakes Fake Check

We all dream of opening our door and there being a big check with our name on it. But, the reality is a bit rough.

See, scammers are using winning sweepstakes as a way to take your money. If you follow their instructions, it will cost you a lot of money.

Americans have reported losing $95 million to sweepstake scams.

You can get a congratulations letter in the mail with a small amount of money in it. This is supposed to be part of the check. You are supposed to deposit it and wire back some of the money to cover fees, taxes, or other expenses. Once that’s done, you’ll get the rest of your money.

What will really happen is that the check will bounce, you’ll be paying the bank fees, and any part of the deposit you already spent and any money you sent to the scammers.

Checks take a while to clear and by then the scammers are long gone.

5. Utility Bill Scams

Scammers are calling people threatening to cut off electricity, gas, or water services if bills aren’t paid immediately. They demand payment over the phone by credit card, or request unusual payment methods like gift cards, reloadable cash cards, or even cryptocurrencies.

Utility companies never work this way. Scammers are also sending mail and emails too. Make sure to keep your bills in order.

6. Fake Family Emergencies

This is also known as the grandparent scam. This is because scammers usually target the elderly late at night to cause more confusion.

Grandparents will get a phone call from someone posing as a friend of their grandchild, a police officer, or a lawyer. They will say that the grandkid needs help fast. The grandparents will also be urged not to tell the parents or anyone else.

They want money wired to them to cover hospital bills, bail, or a plane ticket home. Whatever works for the story.

A scary variation of this is a caller saying they are a kidnapper and demand ransom for the safe return of their grandchild.

How do these scammers know all these personal things about you? Social media. They can learn details about you and your family to sound more convincing.

7. Romance Scams

People get lonely. This makes them easy targets on dating sites. Scammers are pretending to love them. This scam particularly targets older people.

A common thread of romance scams is that the scammer will refuse to meet you. They can claim to be overseas on business or stationed abroad in the military.

The first request for money could be for a plane ticket to visit. Once the wire goes through though, they will make excuses not to visit. Then because they have your trust, they will make up family emergencies, accidents, or business setbacks.

8. Credit Card Skimming

Make sure to keep a close eye on any devices you are about to put your debit or credit card into. Gas pumps for example are a common target for scanners.

They will put “skimming” devices on top of the real units to steal your account information when you put in your card.

You can pay in cash or pay with a card inside to completely avoid this.

9. Phony Vacation Rentals

Many people who are retired travel, as they should, but this leaves you open to scammers. The median loss for travel related fraud, including false packages, was around $1700 in 2017.

Vacation rentals are a favorite among scammers. They will even go as far as using attractive photos and descriptions of places taken from real sites.

Sites like Airbnb.com and VRBO.com are always vigilant against scammers. These are good sites to use for travel.

10. Government Imposter Scams

This type is the biggest scam tracked by the FTC. It causes more than $328 million in losses. These usually are when a person pretends to be government official. But, there is also pretending to be friends, family, love interests, business representatives, and tech support workers.

Be on guard if anyone comes to you and asks for info or money.

Read more here.

10 Ways to Avoid Identity Theft

Be Wary of Scams involving the Coronavirus

It seems like seniors are always getting taken advantage of these days. Seniors are vulnerable because they may be alone, trusting, or have some cognitive impairments. It’s sad that people take advantage of seniors, but here are 10 ways to avoid identity theft.

10 Ways to Avoid Identity Theft

10 Ways to Avoid Identity Theft

 

Around 17 million people are victims of identity theft every year. This happens when someone gets your information via Social Security number, bank, or credit card number.

1. Guard Your Personal Information

This may seem obvious, but don’t ever give your Social Security number, credit card number, and checking or savings account numbers to anyone. The only time you should do this is if you know and trust the other person.

Also don’t carry your Social Security card on you and don’t carry around your Medicare card unless you’re going to the doctor.

2. Get Off Mailing Lists

A great way to put a stop to preapproved credit card offers is to get off mailing lists. These are a gold mine for identity thieves.

Ways to get off these lists is going to optoutprescreen.com or calling 888-567-8688. They will ask for your Social Security number and date of birth.

You can stop junk mail at dmachoice.org and reduce telemarketing calls at donotcall.gov.

3. Use Strong Passwords

Never use passwords that are easy to hack, like 1234 or 0000. Make your computer passwords more than 8 characters long, with uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols like # and %.

Also use different passwords for different accounts. If you have a hard time remembering them all, try a password manager service.

4. Be Wary of Unknown Emails

Don’t click on links in emails from strangers, or those to claim to be from the Social Security Administration, IRS, other government agencies, your bank, phone, or credit card company that are warning of a “problem.”

Clicking the link can cause identity stealing malware to be installed on your computer. You should install antivirus software and automatic security updates and weekly scans.

5. Secure Your Mail

Empty your home mailbox quickly or buy a locked mailbox, so that identity thieves can’t get access to it.

You should also mail any payments from the mail office instead of your home mailbox.

6. Get Safer Credit Cards

If you don’t have one already, get an EMV chip credit card from your credit card provider. They are much more difficult for thieves to hack than the magnetic strip cards.

7. Shred Unneeded Documents

Buy a crosscut paper shredder so you can get rid of unneeded records, receipts, statements, preapproved credit offers, or other papers you throw out that has your financial or personal information.

8. Monitor Your Accounts

Review your monthly bank and credit card statements carefully. See if your bank or credit card issuer offers free alerts that will warn you of suspicious activity as soon as it’s noticed.

If they do, you should sign up for them.

9. Watch Your Credit

Check your credit report at any safe site to do so. You can also receive one free report a year from each of the 3 major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

Think about spacing out your requests so you can get a free copy every few months.

10. Set Up Security Freezes

If you don’t plan to apply for any new credit cards, loans, insurance, or utility services, freeze your credit reports. This way no one can open new accounts in your name.

Rules vary by state, but the $5 to $20 fee is waived if you’re 65 or older or if you show proof of past ID theft.

You can set up freezes at any and all three credit bureaus at equifax.com, experian.com, and transunion.com.

Read more here.