It’s the most wonderful time of the year—the holidays are a time for family, friends and, unfortunately, scammers.
That's right, just when you thought you could relax and enjoy some eggnog by the fire, scams pop up left and right like reindeer on rooftops.
And people over the age of 65 are especially vulnerable to being targeted because they’re more likely to own their own home, have a retirement fund and have excellent credit.
So this holiday season, keep an eye out for the following common holiday scams.
The Grandparent Scam:
In this scam, someone will call or send an email pretending to be your grandchild in need of money. They might even pretend to be a law enforcement officer or attorney to add credibility to the story. Many times they can spoof the grandchild’s phone number so it looks like they’re calling from their actual phone.
They may say they’re stranded in another country or in jail and need you to wire them money ASAP. Or they may ask you to buy them a gift card so they can “return” it to you later.
Either way, don’t fall for it! If you get one of these emails, delete it immediately.
If you get one of these calls, don't panic! Just take a deep breath and try to verify the person's identity by asking them some personal questions only your grandchild would know. If you're still not sure, ask them to call back later so you can talk to their parent.
Chances are, if it's really your grandchild, they'll be able to put you in touch with mom or dad no problem. But if not, at least you didn't send any money to a stranger!
The Bogus Charity Scam:
With all the natural disasters we've seen this year—from hurricanes to wildfires—you might be feeling extra generous this holiday season and want to donate to a worthy cause.
With this scam, someone will contact you claiming to be from a legitimate charity and asking for a donation. They may say they’re from a local charity that you’re familiar with, or a national organization that is well known. They might even spoof the charity’s name or logo to make it look like they’re legitimate.
But before you write a check or hand over your credit card information, do your research!
Make sure the charity is legitimate by checking sites like Charity Navigator (www.charitynavigator.org), which rates charities on their financial health, accountability and transparency, or by checking if they’re registered with the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance.
That way you can be sure your donation is going where it should—to those who need it most.
The "Free" Gift Card Scam:
You see an ad or social media post for a free $500 gift card from a major retailer like Target or Amazon. All you have to do is click on the link and enter your information. Or so they say...
In reality, these fake gift cards are just a way for scammers to collect your personal information like your name, address, phone number and date of birth. They might even go as far as asking for your Social Security number or bank account information. Once they have your info, they can open new accounts in your name, run up charges on your existing accounts or commit tax fraud using your Social Security number.
So please, resist the temptation of those "free" gift cards and save yourself the headache (and heartache) this holiday season.
The Fake Delivery Scam:
With this scam, someone will call or email saying they tried to deliver a package to you but couldn’t because you weren’t home. They may say the package contains something valuable like jewelry or electronics and ask if you can provide them with your credit card information so they can reschedule the delivery.
Don’t fall for it! Hang up or delete the email immediately. Any legitimate company will not ask for your credit card information over the phone or by email.
The Fake Sweepstakes Scam:
This is when a scammer tells you that you’ve won a contest or sweepstakes but you have to pay taxes or fees in order to claim your prize. Don’t fall for it!
Legitimate contests and sweepstakes never require participants to pay anything upfront in order to claim their winnings. Hang up the phone or delete the email and report it to the Federal Trade Commission.
This holiday season, don't let Scrooge ruin all the fun! Keep an eye out for these common scams so you can protect yourself (and your wallet). And if you suspect you've been targeted by a scammer, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/complaint.
From all of us here at Simple Reverse Lending, we wish you a safe and happy holiday season!