Seniors can unfortunately be vulnerable to online scams, especially during the holidays when scams targeting seniors are said to peak.
Learn more about these recent online holiday scams and how to avoid them this season.
How Online Holiday Scams Target Seniors
This holiday season, the Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be wary of online scams — particularly those directed at seniors:
“Santa isn’t the only one keeping track of who is naughty and who is nice! Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to beware of these common holiday scams…”
Scams targeting senior loved ones over the holidays include:
- E-cards: Recently, electronic cards are being used to try to obtain additional information from victims. When you receive an e-card, be sure the sender’s name is apparent and that you recognize the sender before opening or filling out any other information.
- Emergency scams: This has long been a scam targeting seniors, but be cautious if you get a call or email from a distant family member or friend claiming to have an emergency while traveling outside the country. Never send money in this situation, unless you can confirm with another family member or friend that the emergency is true.
- Fake shipping notifications: Recently, fake attachments or links to sites with malware have been attaching to shipping notifications. This malware then attaches to your computer and attempts to steal identities and passwords from victims.
- Letters from Santa: This year, several companies are offering personalized letters from Santa, but there are also scammers who mimic these websites to obtain personal information from parents and grandparents. You can visit bbb.org to find out which companies offer legitimate letters.
- Look-alike websites: Recently, scammers have been taking advantage of consumers and senior shoppers online, copying well-known company and store websites and only slightly changing the URL. Use only legitimate websites and double-check URLs when shopping online.
- Online shopping: This year — with the rise of chip card readers — in-store fraud is down, so scammers have primarily moved online. Use a credit instead of a debit card when shopping online to deter fraud.
- Phony charities: Recently, there has been a rise in false charity solicitations through email, social media and even texts to seniors. Visit charities at give.org to confirm their authenticity before donating.
- Social media gift exchange: This holiday exchange — like most others — sounds like a deal, but it’s really a variation on an illegal pyramid scheme. Try to be wary of any social media gift exchange.
- Temporary holiday jobs: Recently, scammers have been soliciting as retailers that need additional help during the holidays, but beware. The retailer’s store or website is the best place to find out who is truly hiring.
- Unusual forms of payment: This year, there has been a rise in scammers trying to use holiday purchases to obtain debit and gift card payments that cannot be traced or undone. Try not to fall for this ploy that will allow scammers to use your information for identity theft.
Tips to Avoid Becoming a Victim
Here are a few tips to stop seniors from becoming online victims over the holiday season:
- Never give out personal information online or over the phone
- Never wire money to someone you don’t know
- Watch out for offers that are too good to be true
To learn more about online holiday scams or to report one that has affected a senior loved one, visit the: BBB Scam Tracker.
Do you have questions about online holiday scams, or how to keep your senior loved ones safe in assisted living this season? Our Senior Living Advisors can help. Read more about assisted living in your area, or visit our resources for caregivers.