During these times of social distancing and quarantine, older adults may be more isolated and therefore more vulnerable to scams. Perpetrators may be someone familiar to the person such as a family member, friend or neighbor; or simply a stranger making contact by telephone or email. Here are some tips keep your love ones safe from scams during this time of separation.
- When you can’t physically be there, it’s especially important to keep in touch. Daily phone calls and video chats can keep you connected. Letting your loved one know you are there should an issue arise.
- Be sure to ask questions about unexpected visitors, unusual phone calls or emails. Has there been any inquiries made about their personal or financial information or unusual activity on accounts. These are important questions even if your loved one is being cared for in assisted living or nursing facility.
- Put preventive measures in place to reduce scams. Use caller ID, if you don’t recognize the number don’t answer, call block apps will help limit unwanted calls, install antivirus and firewall protection on your computer, don’t open and delete emails you don’t recognize. Remember it’s not rude if you hang up phone or not answer the door to unwanted visitors; especially during this time of quarantine.
- Talk to your love ones about common types of scams, so they can spot a scam and avoid falling victim. Scammers are taking advantage of the pandemic to steal your money and personal information. With more people staying home, they’re more likely to be on their computers or answering the phone. Watch out for these latest coronavirus related scams that may target you and your loved ones.
- Fake Cures, Treatments or Free COVID 19 Tests Fraudulent companies and individuals are selling products that claim to prevent or cure the coronavirus. Currently there is no cure or over the counter treatments. Others may offer free test kits to get you to provide personal information.
- Fake Charities pop up overnight, using similar sounding names to real charities to fool you and steal your money
- Suspension of Social Security benefits Claims to be from the Social Security Administration notifying you that your social security benefits are being suspended immediately due to suspicious behavior or due to COVID-19 related office closures.
- Person in Need Scam Scammers typically pose as a grandchild but could claim to be any relative or even a friend, who is in trouble and urging you to send money immediately-usually by purchasing a prepaid gift card or wire transfer. They say they need the money for an emergency like a hospital bill or to leave a foreign country.
Keeping current on the latest scams is the first step to preventing them. Next step is knowing where to report a scam.
To report suspected COVID-19 related fraud, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline at 1-866-720-4721 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on scams or where to report a scam contact Pinellas County Consumer Protection at 727-464-6617 or visit www.pinellascounty.org/consumer.