Protect your money, resources and sometimes… your pride
Will the scams never cease?
The answer is, not as long as there’s money out there to be plucked out of someone’s pocket, piggy bank, retirement account, credit card account— whatever. Never assume that your elderly parent or your grandchildren or anyone in between has too much common sense to fall for a scam that seems obvious to you. Some enormously successful people have been sucked into lottery scams, Ponzi schemes, and have fallen prey to the thievery of scoundrels.
Here are some recent scams making the rounds, some of which are old and dusty, but still effective.
Celebs asking you to donate?
It may be flattering. But chances are, if your favorite celebrity has reached out to you on Facebook or other social media, you should assume it’s probably a trap.
Scammers have been posing as celebrities asking fans to send money for various reasons. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns it might be to support a charity or to claim a prize of some sort.
Even if you only contribute a few dollars, keep in mind that you may be giving away the keys to your bank account or credit card account if you use one of those methods to pay.
Of course, famous people do lend their names to causes they support. But thieves capitalize on that tendency, especially on social media where they can impersonate someone else anonymously.
If you get a message that appears to be from a celebrity, asking for donations, the FTC has the following advice: Do an online search on your own. Enter the celebrity’s name and the word “scam” and see what comes up. Do the same with the name of the charity or cause they claim to support.
Unsure if a cause is real?
If you were contacted by a charity or cause and are unsure about its validity, consider the following steps:
- Don’t be rushed into a decision. Thieves depend on urgency because they want you to act before common sense kicks in.
- Send no money until you’ve taken the time to ask someone you trust what they think.
- Check the validity of charities through these websites: Give.org, Charitynavigator.org, Charitywatch.org and Guidestar.org.
- If you discover you’ve sent money to a charity scam, contact your bank and explain that you think you’ve been defrauded.
- Ask them to reverse the transaction if possible.
Sweetheart scams live on
Sweetheart scams, from relationships that originate on the internet, often have Mr. (or Ms.) Right asking for loans. As the holiday season grows nearer, lonely people get lonelier, and they become more vulnerable. So keep an eye on your loved ones.
If you suspect your elderly relative has been the victim of a scam, report it to the police and to a local advocate for the elderly. You will not only keep your loved one safe, but you will keep others from falling into the same trap.
Local services to contact that offer elder advocacy support include:
Lucas County Department of Job and Family Services
Adult Protective Services (419-213-8663) and the Senior Protection Unit (419-936-2040). co.lucas.oh.us
Area Office on Aging
800-472-7277 | areaofficeonaging.com
Ability Center of Greater Toledo
419-885-5733 | abilitycenter.org
Better Business Bureau
419-531-3116 | toledo.bbb.org
United Way of Greater Toledo
419-248-2424 | unitedwaytoledo.org
1-800-222-4444, option 2 | aarp.org