Beware of Financial Pitfalls
Anyone can become the subject of a scam, but the elderly are at an increased risk of being targeted by unscrupulous individuals or groups. It is important to learn about common scams in order to recognize them and to help others avoid the same traps.
Krista A. Parry, Esq., Vicki Joiner Bowers, PA
It is a good idea, and most professionals agree, that you should run your credit report annually. Each person is given one free credit report per year according to federal law. The three major companies who provide this service are: Experian, Transunion, and Equifax. Their websites are: www.experian.com; www.transunion.com; and www.equifax.com. Some people choose to stagger their reports and order one from each company every four months instead of requesting a free report annually from all three companies.
You should also consider adding your phone number(s) to the Do Not Call List. You can do this by going to the government’s website: www.donotcall.gov. This is one simple way to prevent telemarketers from calling your home. Other options include eliminating your home telephone; and keeping your cell phone as your only phone; or screening your telephone calls by letting your calls ring to voice mail or your answering machine.
A recent scam is one where a bad actor locates a grandparent’s information on facebook and calls them claiming to be a grandchild asking for money. The bad actor makes up a story about having a poor connection on the phone, being out of the country, or having a car breakdown and needing cash instantly. Then, the grandparent wires funds and ends up giving away money to a thief.
Other types of scams include being contacted by someone claiming that you have won a prize or sweepstakes. The catch is that they need you to send them money. This is always a red flag. One frequently used email scam occurs when a foreign email is received stating that you’ve won a prize, but first you must send money. The theft occurs when the perpetrator obtains your bank account number and proceeds to empty your account while you receive and deposit a bogus check that takes several days to clear, but never does! Or, the fake company will send a bogus check via Federal Express or UPS, you deposit the check and send them money, again, only to discover too late that they have taken your money in exchange for a bogus check.
There are many more schemes operating today in the world, but it is best to remember the old adage, “if it seems to good to be true, then it probably is!”