Published on April 28, 2016
Phone and email scams are on the rise and unfortunately, older adults are very susceptible, especially when pressured by supposed customer service representatives. Review the following list of current scams that have been identified by the Federal Trade Commission and share with your loved ones in order to protect both you and your family.
1. A taxing situation. Internal Revenue Service imposters are the #1 imposter scam in Consumer Sentinel and they’re on the rise. Fake IRS agents may try to scare you into thinking that you owe back taxes or there’s a problem with your return. The real IRS won’t initiate contact by phone or email – instead they’ll start with a postal letter.
2. Sur-prized? Did the Prize Patrol ring you up to say the only thing between you and a pile of winnings is a little processing fee? Before you call in the cameras, balloons and poster-sized check, hold the phone! If you need to send money to collect your prize, hang up. They’re just pretending to be from Publishers Clearinghouse.
3. You need professional help. Maybe the con artist tries to persuade you that your computer is on the fritz. In this twist, scammers try to convince you that your computer has a serious and urgent technical problem and that you desperately need their help.
4. Mal-where? Another version goes like this: “I’m calling from Microsoft Technical Support. I’m looking at your computer and there’s dangerous software popping up.” Put down the phone or refuse to click the pop-up. The fee they demand is usually very low to avoid raising your suspicions. Sometimes they say they’re from billing and you owe money or they need your account information.
5. Fake FBI. In an old twist on the Nigerian email scam, a phony ”governmental official” contacts you with supposed “certification” of the legitimacy of Prince So-and-So from the United Kingdom of Scamnation or some other official-sounding offer. The Prince supposedly wants you to help him move a, well, princely, sum of money out of his troubled country. Nope, not a chance.
6. Kidnapped computers. You click on a link in an email that seems like it’s from a legitimate company. The window that pops up says a destructive program has locked you out of your files. The pop-up might tell you to click a link so an “FBI agent” can help you. Or they tell you to get a prepaid card and pay for a password that will unlock your files. More often than not, even if you pay the ransom, they don’t release your files. Regularly back up your files to minimize any damage these thieves could cause.