Tips to Avoid Falling Victim to Common Scams

Personal Identifying Information. Legitimate government employees will never call you, show up to your house, or send you an e-mail to request your account number, social security number, or other personal identifying information. If ever in doubt, look up the alleged agency’s contact information and call them directly to determine whether or not a request is authentic.

The Police Aren’t Coming to Your House. The IRS will never send the police to your house for being delinquent on a single tax return. They certainly won’t send the police to your house within minutes of calling to notify you of delinquent taxes.

Be wary of buying prescriptions over the internet. Counterfeit drug scams operate in abundance on the internet and target seniors. The purchased drugs may end up costing the purchaser more money down the road and may contain harmful substances. It’s best to work through a vendor who has been vetted by your physician or to work with a local pharmacy.

Funeral Scams. There are some conniving ne’er-do-wells who review obituaries and attempt to extort money from grieving family members under the premise of a bogus debt. State law provides a legal avenue for legitimate creditors to file a claim against a decedent’s estate and does not typically allow for creditors to directly contact family members.

Phone Scams. These scams target the elderly, who are far more likely to engage in financial transactions over the phone than other demographic groups. The scammer may call about a large sum of money to be transferred, a “sick” relative, or even making a charitable donation. Trust your gut. If it feels out of place or sounds too good to be true, you’re probably onto something.

Email/phishing scams. Be careful what you click and where you share information. Online quizzes, pop-up windows, and E-mail attachments may contain viruses or ransomware that can wreak havoc on your computer and expose your confidential information. Every internet user should have adequate anti-virus protection and should always be skeptical when downloading programs from the internet.

Consult an Advisor. When in doubt, speak to your attorney, financial advisor, or banker. These professionals should be capable of sniffing out a scam and pointing you in the right direction if additional protective measure need to be taken.

Protect Elderly Family Members. Unfortunately, scammers often target the elderly. It is important that family members or other trusted individuals keep a vigilant eye on finances, caregivers, and other unfamiliar visitors. A properly drafted Durable Property Power of Attorney and Advance Directive for Health Care are important tools in performing these duties and should be executed by every adult, especially adults over the age of 60.