While we are concerned about finances and our health with COVID-19, we also must be uber-aware of four points of contact: phone calls, text messages, emails and social media.
CNBC’s recent article entitled “Beware these common scams that specifically target seniors” explains that seniors in the U.S. are more apt to be victims of ID theft, according to IDology, which provides identity protection services. The big issue is having a credit or debit card stolen—and the pandemic has likely helped create a major upswing in crime against the elderly. Looking at data from August 2019 through January with February and March, IDology found a 209% increase in the use of seniors’ personal ID to commit fraud. However, seniors were less likely to take action than other American adults. Here’s what to watch for and how to guard your sensitive info.
- ID theft is a commodity. A huge percentage of seniors don’t know or don’t believe that their personal information, like their Social Security numbers, can be had for a few bucks on the dark web. Protect your personal information by learning to recognize phishing scams. These can be text messages, emails, phone calls or websites that ask you for personal details. Check the validity of the entity or a person, prior to donating.
- Hello, IRS? Really? Let’s be 100% crystal clear: the government will never call, text, or contact you on social media to inform you that you owe money. Requests for gift cards, cash and wire transfers are always 100% fraudulent. Requests for your personal identification, like your Medicare ID or bank account information, are always 100% a scam!
- Bogus claims. You can reach numerous government agencies for information concerning common Covid-19 scams, bogus calls and unproven health claims. To that end, the SEC issued an alert in February about investment scams related to coronavirus. There is no vaccine or drug that’s been approved to treat the virus at this point! Nevertheless, criminals are still touting phony remedies. The FTC continues to send warnings to companies making dubious claims. Another way you can give up your private information, is by sharing your details with scammers pretending to be contact tracers working for public health departments. The FTC issued a warning in May to be on guard for spam texts that ask you to click a link. The FCC site describes scams delivered through text message or by robo-call, with some posing as government health officials.
To repeat: the government will never call, text, or contact you on social media to tell you that you owe money.