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Seniors & Holiday Scams II: Ways to Avoid Them


Since before biblical times, scam artists have been a part of the landscape. For some reason though, their presence is more pronounced during the holidays. Last week I shared seven scams to be on the lookout for. Today I will be sharing 5 ways to avoid them.

Beware of mail SolicitationsAnthony Cirillo, a nationally known seniors advocate, and speaker warn about the over-abundance of fraudulent mail that appears during the holidays. The envelope and company logo may look legit, and their cause may sound righteous, but the majority of these are scams. Best to not even open the envelope or even think about sending them a check.

Don’t pick up the phoneCatey Hill, Deputy Editor at Dow Jones Media Group, advises people, especially seniors, to not pick up the phone. If you don’t recognize the number don’t pick up. If it’s a solicitation, chances are they will not leave a message. If they do leave a message and you don’t know who they are don’t return the call.

Ask for Proof– If they’re asking for money immediately says Amie Clark, Co-founder of The Senior List, ask them for a business name, address, phone number or if they can send you a letter. Just don’t give out your address. If the answer is no to any of these, hang up.

If you don’t know the sender– If the letter is unfamiliar or it’s not someone you have dealt with before, advises Pro Seniors, throw it away. If an email, hit delete, it may contain a virus.

Don’t share personal information– The Consumer Information Dept of the FTC warns against sharing personal information of any nature. If you don’t know who they are, don’t give out your credit card number, address or any other personal information.

These are mostly common-sense precautions, but you might be surprised just how many people open a letter and write a check to an organization they have never heard of and know nothing about. Seniors, for a variety of reasons, fall prey to these more than the rest of us. It wouldn’t hurt to sit down with your loved one and caution them about these scam artists.

As usual, my list is in no way a compilation of all the precautions to take. These are just a few easy steps to help seniors and the rest of us avoid a headache or two during the holidays and beyond.