Top scams targeting older Americans in 2021
4. Celebrity impostor scams
Real celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber made headlines during the pandemic with cash donations on social media. Fans have posted their Money Transfer App ID (or $ Cashtag, in the Cash app) for a chance to get free money. Right away, crooks posing as celebrities started giving bogus gifts to gain private information.
The scheme: You receive a note via social media, email or text message stating that you have won! You just need to verify your account information and send a small deposit in advance.
How to avoid: If you really win, you won’t be asked to send money first, says Satnam Narang of Tenable, a cybersecurity firm. âThe easiest way to beat this scam is to block incoming requests on your money transfer app. Remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. “
5. Online dating scams
They don’t just hide on dating sites. âRomantic con artists are reaching out to unsuspecting women and men in online prayer groups and reading groups, thanks to online games like Words With Friends and other groups that people turn to during the week. ‘pandemic isolation,’ says Nofziger.
The scheme: Scammers typically attract their love marks off sites that can be watched and on Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, or Facebook Messenger, where no one is looking at them. Eventually, they hit you for money.
How to avoid: Rule number one: never send money to someone you’ve never met in person. And say no to requests for selfies and suggestive videos that a crook can later use to blackmail you. âIt’s flattering to be told that you are attractive,â says Nofziger, âbut it will be used against you.â
6. Medicare card scams
Scammers email, call and even knock on doors pretending to be Medicare and offering all kinds of pandemic-related services if you âverifyâ your Medicare ID number.
The scheme: The offers include new cards which they claim contain microchips. Some installers are asking for payment to get beneficiaries to queue for the COVID-19 vaccine.
How to avoid: Hang up the phone, close the door, delete the e-mail. According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Medicare will never contact you without authorization for your Medicare number or other personal information. And he will never call to sell you anything. Protect your Medicare number and never pay for a COVID vaccine. It’s free.
7. Peer-to-peer (P2P) payment scams
The rise of smartphone tools like CashApp, Venmo, Zelle, and PayPal, which allow you to transfer money directly to another person, has led to a slew of frauds.
The scheme: “One of the most widespread is the so-called ‘accidental transfer of funds’ scam,” says Narang. âScammer sends hundreds of dollars, then sends follow-up message asking for reimbursement, claiming it was an ‘accident.’ âBut the initial transfer was made with a stolen debit card; these funds will eventually be deleted from your account. And you have no more money.
How to avoid: Examine the money requests before clicking “accept”. To be more diligent, “disable [or block] incoming requests entirely on your app and only use it to send money, âsuggests Narang. Activate it when someone you trust is about to send you money. And ignore an accidental deposit return notice. Report the incident to the app’s support team to resolve the dispute.
8. Fraudulent social security calls
Scammers use “spoofed” phone numbers that appear to be from Washington, DC, to appear credible.
The scheme: You get a scary phone call saying your Social Security number was used in a crime – and you’ll be arrested soon if you don’t send money to fix it. âThey can tell that your number was used to rent a car where drugs were found and that the Drug Enforcement Agency is on its way to your house,â Nofziger says. âThe caller may refer you to a local law enforcement website where you can see the person’s photo. You think you checked it out, call them back and send money. “
How to avoid: âDon’t pick up the phone unless you absolutely know who is calling,â says Nofziger. “If it’s important, they’ll leave a voicemail message.”
9. Fraudulent texts for taking control of an account
Scammers send fake text messages alleging that there are big problems with your internet account, credit card, bank account, or order on Amazon. They want you to click on links and provide personal information.
The scheme The urgent sounding text message may have a real-looking logo. âPeople don’t expect scammers to use text messages, so they’re more likely to click,â says Moore.
How to avoid: Remember not to click on links in emails and texts that you have not requested. Call your bank or credit card company to investigate a problem. Installing security software on your computer and keeping it up to date is also crucial, says Brian Payne, cybersecurity expert, Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.