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Seniors & Holiday Scams: 7 Scams to be Prepared For

The holidays are officially here. How do I know this you ask? Easy. The local grocery store has stocked its freezer shelves with Blue Bell Peppermint ice cream. For me, that’s better than the fall foliage or the crisp weather. Unfortunately, the holiday season brings back some familiar problems. One of those is scams that prey upon seniors. This week I will share seven scams to be on the lookout for.

  • Christmas e-cardsTheo Thimou, a freelance writer, warns against fake holiday greeting cards. If you’re asked to provide personal information, delete the email. Make sure the sender is someone you know. If you don’t know them or the company doesn’t open it. It could be a virus. Beware of misspellings and never give out personal data.
  • Fake charities – The charity scam occurs all year long but seems to gain particular traction during the holidays when people are feeling a bit more generous. A December 2017 article posted by the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities, warns consumers about fraudulent charities. The fake organization’s name may be similar to one that is well known. Solicitors may contact you by phone, email or door-to-door. Above all else, do not give out personal data or pay on the spot. If you suspect a scam hang up, close the door or delete the email. Also, research the company to be sure it is legitimate.
  • Different payment method – When making your holiday purchase, the BBB cautions consumers to be aware of strange payment methods. These include gift cards, wire transfers, and third parties.
  • Letter from Santa – This scam gets about as low as a scammer can go. The scammer, says Consumer Affairs, will send an email promising that for a small fee they will write your child or grandchild an” official letter from Santa” and a certificate that they are on his nice list. Don’t be fooled, delete the email and write the letter yourself. The scammers are looking to get your credit card information.
  • Fake gift cards – This is another old scam, but seems to always increase in frequency with the holidays. Scammers email you an enticing offer that in exchange for some piece of personal information, phone number, address or credit card, they will give you a free gift card. Don’t fall for it says Jennifer Jolly, a leading consumer affairs advocate. All they want is your information. Best to go to the source and buy the gift card yourself.
  • Online Store Imposter Jian Deleon, a lifestyle editor, and writer, shares 10 tips for discerning if a website is fake or not. His tips include a different website than the name of the company, misspelled words and discounted prices that are too good to be true.
  • Pet Scams – This is another online scam you need to be wary of says Stephanie Zimmerman, an investigative journalist. Shopping online for a new puppy or other animals can be an adventure. It’s estimated that up to 80% of the sites are fake. The “seller” usually asks for money for shots, medical records, transportation and more. Investigate the site before paying for anything or call the BBB.

It’s a shame so many people are out to take advantage of you, especially seniors. Like anything else, the internet is a double-edged sword and, if you’re not careful, will take a bite out of your wallet. Everyone, especially seniors who are not internet savvy, needs to be on the alert during the holidays when these scams are at their peak.

The above scams are just the tip of the iceberg. There are dozens more out there. I just don’t have the time to research and share them all. If nothing else, I hope this puts you on the alert for holiday predators who only want to steal your joy … and your money.