Although the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light some of the amazing work regular people are doing every day, it has, unfortunately, also brought out those looking to scam people. Many such scams have been identified in online sources and on the news. Here are a few scams that target the senior citizen demographic.
Telemarketing scams have been around since telephones became commonplace in US homes. Now that so many of us carry a cell phone, these scams have grown increasingly prevalent. Any call you get from a stranger or robot should be scrutinized. Remember not to provide your date of birth, Social Security Number, financial data, or any other sensitive personal information over the phone.
Keep in mind that the IRS will not call, text, or email you directly to request personal data, nor will any official government agency demand payment in the form of gift cards. Many telemarketing scams claim to be the IRS to intimidate people into divulging personal information.
Scammers have been caught claiming they have treatments or preventative supplements for COVID-19. If you are solicited by an ad or direct message from someone claiming they have a product that can prevent or cure COVID-19, do not reply. For updates on the advance of a vaccine and measures you can take to avoid COVID-19, visit www.cdc.gov.
Since the start of the pandemic, smartphone and tablet apps have been developed to help users understand the outbreak and identify areas that are considered hot zones. Be careful which apps you install, as many include language in their user agreements and privacy policies that allows the app’s developer to access personal information on your phone. If you are considering downloading one of these apps, make sure that it has been verified by CDC and local government, is a legitimate app, and that you read all the fine print prior to accepting the terms and installing it.
With each citizen receiving a stimulus check, scammers create fake checks with instructions to go online and provide additional information. If you receive anything resembling this, be sure to report it and avoid following attached directions to visit a website and enter sensitive personal information.
Some individuals have created fake personal grant-making programs. The “grant maker” requests an application fee (or other upfront payment) with the promise of returning the funds as part of a substantially larger grant or personal loan later. Be wary of offers for financial assistance that require you to make an initial payment, and always reach out directly to the organization the solicitor claims to be affiliated with to verify the existence of the program.
New Horizons at Marlborough is always keeping a lookout for new scams that target individuals in our residents’ demographic. Remember, if you receive an unsolicited call or email requesting personal information, always have it reviewed by a trusted family member or friend.