“You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch” is more than just a catchy tune from one of the most beloved holiday programs ever created. Sadly, there are many grinches out there doing everything they can to unlawfully take money from the unsuspecting. And, it’s sad to say that the intended victims of many holiday scams are seniors.
Seniors are preferred targets for scammers for several reasons:
- They’re more likely to own their own home
- They probably have a retirement fund
- They usually have good/excellent credit
- Many aren’t tech-savvy
- They may have some degree of cognitive impairment
The holidays are a season where seniors face even more scams than usual. Grinches take advantage of busy schedules and holiday generosity. They often prey on lonely seniors who are happy to be contacted by someone.
Common Holiday Scams Targeting Seniors
Scammers have a wide variety of ways to illegally get people to part with their hard-earned money. Here are several that they use to zero in on seniors.
Online Shopping Schemes
A deal that’s “too good to be true” usually is. Scammers send seniors emails that use compelling, but fake, offers to get their victims to share private information or download malware on their computers.
Some of those scams look like this:
- Download an app and get great discounts. These emails often contain logos that look like major, name-brand retailers. But, upon closer inspection, you’ll see spelling errors and no online reviews.
- Get a loyal customer gift card. This scam tells the senior that a retailer wants to reward them with a gift card and to click a link and provide information to get the card. It’s unlikely this is real; it’s just another unscrupulous way scammers get personal information.
- Be an online secret shopper. Seniors are invited by email to shop online and rate the retailer’s customer service and their overall shopping experience. They can then keep merchandise they bought and get additional pay sent to their bank account. Of course, this is a scam designed to get the banking information of the unsuspecting victim and empty the account.
Seniors who spend time online should be warned not to click on links or open attachments in suspicious emails and never provide any personal or banking information if they haven’t been asked to log into an account they already access online.
Fake Lottery or Sweepstake Winnings
Many seniors remember “Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes,” where someone unexpectedly showed up outside a lucky winner’s front door and presented them with a giant check.
Grinches use the same type of tactic; they just use email. They tell their target the exciting news that they’ve just won the lottery or have a big sweepstakes prize coming their way. Fraudsters then request banking information to deposit the winnings, or they ask the victim to send money to cover a prize fee or pay the taxes on their winnings before they receive them.
Fraudulent Gift Cards
Crooks have been known to tamper with some of the gift cards displayed in grocery stores. Seniors should buy gift cards on the retailer’s website or directly from the retailer at the cash register in their store.
This scam is prevalent during the holidays because seniors want to reconnect with family. With this scam, the grandchild (supposedly) calls or emails the grandparent that they’re in some type of trouble and need grandma or grandpa to send money for medical, financial, or legal fees. They usually ask the grandparent not to tell their parent.
In this case, the senior should tell the scammer to give them a number they can call right back. Seniors should also call the parent and tell them about the contact they just had. Chances are the child is safe at home, or the parent knows where they are.
We Can Help Seniors Stay Safe From Holiday Scams
Our experienced caregivers at Seniors Prefer Homecare act as a second pair of eyes for our clients. They know that seniors are targets for tricksters and can alert you of anything online or offline that doesn’t seem legitimate.
If you need home care for your loved one in Tuscaloosa or Huntsville, call us today for a free consultation. We’re here to help during the holidays, and beyond!