Prevent Holiday Fraud
Sadly, the holidays bring a far more dangerous risk of real and significant financial fraud. Seniors are especially vulnerable as perpetrators of charity scams try to exploit older adults’ natural generosity and trusting nature. Seniors who enjoy shopping for gifts online (that number is growing) are also at greater risk as statistics confirm that the 2016 holiday season will bring an increase in instances of credit card fraud targeting e-shoppers.
There are a number of ways to avoid being scammed over the holiday season.
Using a credit card, as opposed to a debit card, is generally considered to be a safer way to shop, especially online. By law, you are fully protected if your credit card is attacked. It is the card issuer that is responsible for recovering any lost funds. But with debit cards, you have only two days to report the fraud to limit your loss to $50, only 60 days to report it to limit your loss to $500, and you could lose everything in your bank account, including everything in linked accounts, if you fail to report the fraud within 60 days.
There is also an uptick in charity scams around the holidays when people are naturally inclined to be generous. Be wary of any charity that refuses to provide details about its identity, cannot provide proof that your contribution is tax-deductible or even thanks you for a donation you do not remember making. When in doubt, check the trustworthiness of a charity at one of the charity “watchdogs” like the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch and GuideStar.
Beyond holiday charity scams, familiarize yourself and family members about current schemes that target seniors and family members—education is considered to be the first line of defense in recognizing fraud. The National Council on the Aging (NCOA), AARP and EverSafe® also have some good tips on avoiding scams that specifically target seniors.
One of the most important ways to prevent fraud over the holiday season is to vigorously monitor your financial accounts and credit reports. Help your loved ones keep an eye on their finances as well by offering to receive alerts on their accounts at the first sign of irregular activity.
Check-in Neighbors and our elder financial fraud prevention division, Check-in Neighbors powered by Eversafe, is dedicated to protecting seniors and their families from financial fraud and exploitation.