4 Holiday Scams that Target Older Adults

4 Holiday Scams that Target Older Adults

The holidays are upon us. Joy and cheer are all around—along with unsavory types looking to take advantage of the season.

If you are an older adult or have one in your life, keep an eye out for scammers looking to profit off the spirit of goodwill.

Below, we outline scams commonly used on older adults and ways to avoid them.

1. Bogus shipping notifications

With the supply chain problems many retailers are experiencing this year, shoppers are following along closely to see when their packages will arrive. Track with caution. Scammers can send falsified tracking links that look legitimate from delivery services like FedEx and UPS. But if you click the link, you won’t see how soon your Christmas gifts will be at your front door – you’ll potentially open your device up to a malware attack.

SAFETY TIP: Don’t click the link on package tracking emails. Copy the tracking number and instead, enter it directly into the shipper’s website to test its legitimacy and get the tracking information you need.

2. The “grandparent scam”

This scam is nothing new but it certainly can be effective. Scammers will call an older adult claiming to be a family member and request money to help them with a personal problem like paying bills so their kids can spend the holidays in a warm home or covering the cost of bail so they can come home for Christmas dinner. The request will usually be urgent and the caller will want the person to keep the exchange a secret.

SAFETY TIP: Before providing any money, pause and call a trusted family member like a sibling or child. Tell them about the call and confirm the “family member” is who they say they are and is experiencing the problem they told you about. With our connected and public social media lives, it’s not difficult for scammers to learn your family members names to try and take advantage of your generosity.

3. Shady online retailers

COVID-19 is still a prominent concern driving many shoppers online again in 2021. It’s an easy and safe alternative to busy stores and malls. But not all online retailers are created equal. In your search for that perfect gift, you may unknowingly end up on a suspicious site that may steal and share the personal and financial information you use to checkout.

SAFETY TIP: Be sure to use a credit card rather than a debit card when shopping online so potential scammers don’t have direct access to your bank account. You can then monitor your credit card account for unexpected purchases and easily replace it if it’s compromised. If you’re just not confident in your ability to make purchases online, take note of the items you’d like to buy and ask a trusted friend or family member to make the purchases for you.

4. Charity hoaxes

Charitable giving is a common end of year activity for many, and scammers are well aware. You may receive calls soliciting donations for causes or organizations you’d like to support. Be aware that the caller may not actually be associated with the organization.

SAFETY TIP: If you’d like to donate, ask the caller to provide the name, address, and telephone number for the charity. When you hang up, confirm that those details match those listed on the organization’s website. If they don’t, don’t provide the caller any money. And consider calling the organization to let them know about the attempted scam.

Some of these scams are old classics but others utilize new technology and new approaches. Hopefully, you won’t come across any of these problems this holiday season. But, if you do, you’ll have a few new tips in your back pocket to keep you safe.