Scams perpetrated on our senior citizens total billions of dollars every year, and they likely will total more than that in 2020 because of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Be sure you and your loved ones are aware of several of the newer scams which are out there, and some of the other ones, too.
The most important rule your parents probably told you, as my parents told my siblings and me growing up: If it sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is. When in doubt, do not do it. Sleep on it, do not make any quick decisions, and ask a credible source what they think. (Some credible non-profit sources for direction are also noted below.)
Coronavirus Pandemic scams.
- Scammers who come to your home and offer to shop for you. They get your list, payment method, and they do not come back.
- Phone solicitations for hand sanitizers, cleaning products and paper goods. They ask for your cc information and the goods are never delivered.
- The caller claims a vaccination for the virus has been found, and they offer to provide it to you for a price. (There is no known vaccination currently.)
- You receive information about a charity you never heard of. It sounds authentic, but it is not. You are asked to click on to its web site, which gets the scammer into your computer to get confidential credit card numbers.
- Stimulus checks. You receive information that you are entitled to a stimulus check, but you are asked to provide confidential information to apply for it. Or, you are asked to advance funds to process your payment.
- Other standard scams when the caller asks for your private cc information.
If you live in NC and you believe you have been a victim, call the NCDOJ at 1.877.5.NO SCAM. (667226).
Here are some of the garden variety scams which make their way around the area.
- Lottery Scams. You are informed you have won the lottery (which you did not enter). You did not know you were even eligible. (You are not.) To receive the winnings, however, you are told you need to send in money to pay the taxes on the winnings and to pay other routine fees. The purported lottery official asks you for money to pay these seemingly legitimate expenses, or they ask for your social security number or your bank account number, or both. And they sound very nice and professional. Do not give them the information or send them money.
- Sweepstakes Cons. These are like the lottery scams. They tell you that you need to settle with the tax authorities. No legitimate sweepstakes company is going to ask you to do that. You do not have to share any banking information or social security information if it is legitimate. Remember, among other things, that the odds of your winning any legitimate contests you may enter are often nearly 200,000,000 to 1. And the odds of you winning a sweepstakes you did not enter are 0.
- Investment opportunities. There are legitimate investment programs in which a company provides you with a free lunch or dinner. Just be cautious. Do not make any decisions on the spot. It is so important it is to think about a proposal before you act. If it is such a deal, it will be available tomorrow.
If you have fallen victim to a scam, the Better Business Bureau suggests you report it to the police. Go to the phone busters’ site at www.phonebusters.com, or phone toll free 1-888-495-8501.
Remember: An informed choice is a smart choice.
Mike Wells is a partner with Wells Law, PLLC in Winston-Salem. His email address is email@example.com and his telephone number is 336.283.8700.