Medicare Agent Senior Tips: Common Scams to Watch For (Part 1 of 2)
Many Americans fall victim to scams every year. Here are some scams to watch out for to protect yourself and what to do if you become the victim of a scam.
Funeral and Cemetery Scams
This is when scammers take advantage of someone who is grieving a loss.
Scammers will read the obituaries and claim that the deceased has an outstanding debt and attempt to get money to settle the debts. In another approach, dishonest funeral homes will add extra charges to the bill.
A more common scam will show up in your e-mail informing you that a friend has passed away. At first glance the email looks official because it has the right letterhead. The e-mail will encourage you to click a link to read the entire obituary and service information. But clicking the link may infect your computer with 'malware.' This is software that will prevent your computer from working or to get personal information you might be storing on your computer.
How to Protect Yourself from Funeral and Cemetery Scams
Don't give anyone money unless they can prove that he/she is owed a debt. If you are not sure that their proof is ligament, don't hesitate to ask a family member or friend to take a second look.
When planning and paying for a funeral, it is normal to have a hard time making decisions while grieving. Bring a calm, level headed friend or family member to help you. Get referrals from family and friends on reputable funeral homes. You can also plan and pay for your funeral in advance. This way you can make decisions without dealing with grieving of a loved one at the same time.
To avoid scams in your e-mail, don't click on any links unless you are positive of where it will take you. On a desktop or laptop you can check the link fairly easily. Using a mouse or touch pad, hover over the link you want to check on. Your computer will show you the destination of that link with a small pop-up or at the bottom or top of your screen.
According to the FTC, identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information and uses it without your permission. The most common way someone will steal your information is getting a phone call or e-mail stating they need to verify your account. They can use this information to open new lines of credit in your name, leaving your responsible.
You can protect yourself from this. First, never give your information to someone who calls you. Hang up and call the bank/company that holds that account. They can ensure that the request for information is valid. Second, shred all documents with personal information or account information. This includes anything that has your social security number, birth date, bank account number or home address. Lastly, check your credit report at least once per year.
This scam can be done by telephone, e-mail and online. Scammers will contact you claiming to represent a charity in need of money. Oftentimes they will us a recent disaster like earthquakes or hurricanes and state that the funds will be used to aid the victims.
Many of these charities are bogus and your money goes directly into the criminal's bank account. Other times, the charity will use a very small amount of your donation for what they've claimed, but keep the rest for profit.
You can protect yourself by only giving to organizations that you are familiar with or have worked with in the past. Be cautious of crowdfunding like GoFundMe. If a charity contacts you for funds, ask them to send information in the mail. If they try to push you into donating now, rush you or won't provide you with the information you want, hang up. These are not characteristics of a real charity.
Put your number on the do not call list. This will decrease the number of unsolicited calls you receive. Do this by visiting donotcall.gov or by calling the toll free number 888-382-1222.
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