Protect Yourself From Scams
Financial scams that target seniors are becoming more prevalent, both online and offline. Here is some helpful information to help keep you safe.
Scammers often use your emotions against you to get you to fall for a scam. So when the scam is over, the feelings of vulnerability and distress may remain.
Romance scams are on the rise, according to the FBI. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center reports thousands of romantic scams a year. Millions of dollars are stolen each year as a result of romantic scams.
Here’s a basic example of how romantic scams may work:
- Scammers look for potential targets on dating websites or social media and create a fake persona that would appeal to the potential target
- The scammer will build trust by being very attentive or talking you through a hard time
- Once the scammer has expressed strong emotion to the target, there will be some sort of financial request disguised as a need, like an emergency medical procedure that isn’t covered by insurance
Scammers make up an excuse and pretend that they will pay you back. Romantic scams sometimes happen over the course of years, with the scammer continuing to ask for more money from the same person.
There are a number of different scams that scare people with lies meant to intimidate people into quickly handing over personal information.
It may be a call or email claiming to be from the IRS. Scammers pretend to be employees of the IRS. They say that you owe money and need to pay immediately or they will call the police and have you arrested.
There is also a similar scam that pretends to be from your utility company. The scammer says that your power will be shut if you don’t pay them.
The “grandparent scam” pretends that one of your family members is in trouble. The scammer calls pretending to be your grandchild or another family member. They claim to need money right away for an emergency, like a DUI or medical issue.
All of these scams try to scare you into immediate action in hopes that you won’t have time to confirm the facts.
Tips for Protecting Yourself
- Be cautious with online dating, especially if the person is never able to meet you in real life
- If you are unsure about a caller, hang up and research the situation
- Don’t let fear spark you into giving money away before you can confirm the truth in the situation
- If someone claims to be a family member, ask the person to answer a question that only your real family member would know
- Know that wire transfers, prepaid debit cards and other immediate forms of payments are often used in fear-based scams
- Never send money to someone you don’t know, no matter what their excuse is
- Search for the person’s photo online to see if it has been used for other dating profiles
To learn more about these scams and more, go to suncoastcreditunion.com
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