There are some “Top Ten” lists nobody wants to make, and here’s a good example, from the website of the Mic Network (www.mic.com). It’s the Top Ten list of the worst scams of 2017, and it reflects the creative skill of thieves out there who are always looking for new and better ways to separate you from your money. We at AgingOptions share this information with you because scammers don’t care if you’re old, young or in-between – they’re after your bank account numbers, credit card numbers, and social security numbers. But sadly it’s seniors who seem to be disproportionately affected by fraud, sometimes with catastrophic results.
The article from the Mic Network (click here to read it) is called “Worst Scams of 2017: 10 tricks fraudsters are using to dupe you out of your money.” Some of these sounded familiar to us while others were newer, but there’s a common thread: crooks will do whatever it takes to trick the unsuspecting into revealing the information thieves are looking for. If necessary they’ll resort to everything from flattery to intimidation. Most of these come-ons will strike via your telephone, especially your cell phone. In just about every instance the advice is the same: hang up immediately.
“Financial fraud is alive and well,” writes the article, “and mobile phone scams in particular are a major way fraudsters are tricking people in 2017.” A new report from a telecommunications privacy firm called First Orion reveals that scam calls on mobile phones have quadrupled since 2015. More than half of the survey participants in the First Orion study said they received a scam call within the past month and the number of respondents who have received one of these annoying calls since the first of the year is now close to 80 percent. “Not sure what to do — beyond ignoring your phone when it rings?” asks the mic.com article. “A little bit of warning can go a long way.”
There’s not space to cover all ten scams here – for that we encourage you to read the article. But here’s an overview of a few that we’d never heard of before.
- You get a phone call from someone claiming to be from Apple Tech Support. They claim they’ve had an iCloud breach and that some of your data has been compromised. All you have to do is provide them with important personal data (passwords, sometimes even credit card numbers) and they can fix the breach. But the truth is that Apple will never contact customers with this type of request, so the best advice is to hang up and then report the call to Apple immediately.
- You’ve lost something in a taxi, and in an effort to retrieve it you find a company online that promises to recover your lost item for a flat fee of $47. The firm has a legitimate-sounding name like “yellowcabnyc.com.” But it’s a fraud: you’ll never see your lost item or your fee again, and now the scammers have your credit card number. Instead of falling for this scam, if you forget something in a cab, start with a phone call to the taxi company and they’ll advise you how to proceed.
- Some scams simply don’t pass the common sense test. For example, a scammer might call and promise that you’ve won some form of government grant because you paid your taxes on time. All they need is your checking account information so the bogus grant can be electronically deposited. Or you might find a “too good to be true” deal on Craig’s List for an airline ticket: you pay by credit card and receive what seems like an authentic confirmation number, only to discover (sometimes at the airport!) that the ticket doesn’t exist. The only safe solution is to use a site that’s trusted, like Expedia.
- Other growing sources of scam complaints involve bogus vacation rentals. Thieves will pose as agents and rip off your pre-payment for properties that don’t even exist, or they’ll “hijack” an actual ad for a real property and defraud potential renters. The Federal Trade Commission advises that you should be extremely cautious if someone asks you to wire money in advance for a vacation rental.
There are many more inventive rip-offs out there waiting to victimize the unsuspecting. Has the IRS called threatening you with a fine and arrest? Have you received calls accusing you of failing to show up for jury duty and offering to settle your “fine” via credit card over the phone? Have you received alarming phone calls that a loved one has been kidnapped or is in jail? Do you occasionally get calls from businesses seeking to “verify” personal information over the phone? Odds are practically 100 percent that these are all scam phone calls. (And by now we suspect most people know this, but here’s very important rule of thumb: don’t trust caller i.d.)
At AgingOptions, we seek to help people protect their assets in retirement and not become a burden to those they love. When it comes to holding onto your money, the first rule of thumb is not to allow someone to steal it from you! We urge you to share this information and other similar articles with those you love, and especially with your aging parents and friends. Because seniors tend to be more trusting and less technically savvy, they are known to be more susceptible to telephone-based scams and frauds. You owe it to them to make certain they know how to cope with the scoundrels out there who may be lurking on the other end of that innocent-sounding phone call.
When it comes to protecting yourself in retirement, we can definitely help. At AgingOptions we’ve developed a unique and comprehensive retirement planning strategy called LifePlanning, blending together the five most important parts of any retirement plan: financial, legal, housing, medical and family. In your personalized LifePlan all five of these facets act interdependently, giving you greater peace of mind than you may have thought possible. Why not find out more? It’s easy – and completely without cost or obligation. Simply invest a few hours and attend a LifePlanning Seminar at a location that’s convenient for you. You’ll be very glad you did – and you’ll never look at retirement in quite the same way again.
For dates, times and locations, and to register online, simply click on this link, or call us for assistance during the week. It will be our pleasure to meet you and to answer your retirement questions at an upcoming LifePlanning Seminar.
(originally reported at www.mic.com)