With the busyness of the holidays upon us, you may be more susceptible to “letting your guard down” and opening your checkbook. Unfortunately, this may sometimes be to people whose intentions are bad. Our older family members, relatives and friends are particularly vulnerable. It’s estimated that older adults lose billions of dollars each year to scammers, who are more active during the holidays.

For that reason, we’re sharing with you today some ways you can protect yourself and your loved ones, and a few of the more common scams to be wary of.

There are several ways you can protect yourself from cyber fraud and financial exploitation, including:

  • Always think before you act
  • Never give our personal information online, over the phone, or by text
  • Never wire money to someone you don’t know personally
  • Check your credit card statements for errors and unusual activity
  • Verify any information a caller may provide, and ask all callers for their supervisor’s name and contact details
  • Always use an online directory like Guide Star or Charity Navigator to verify a charity’s authenticity before making a donation

Here are some of the more common scams that our older parents, relatives and friends may be tricked into:

Romance
For single or widowed seniors, the holidays can be a lonely time. Scammers will use a fake personal to build a relationship online, and then ask for money to come to the US, or for another urgent purpose.

Grandparent / Grandchild
Grandparents are usually willing to do just about anything to help their grandkids. Fraudsters will attempt to exploit this by contacting the elderly and telling them their grandchildren have been arrested and need bail money transferred immediately.

Lottery Winner
Older Americans who play the lottery are vulnerable to fraudsters who contact them by phone, and tell them that to receive their (fake) lottery winnings, they must first pay a sizeable fee, or taxes, on that win.

Fake Charity
Charity scams are especially prevalent during the holiday season. Make sure that you verify the authenticity of any charitable organization before making a donation.

Online Shopping
Shopping online makes us a potential target for fraud or identity theft. To minimize the risk, should only shop with trusted online retailers, and use credit cards instead of debit cards to deter fraud.

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