How the Elderly can Avoid Scams during the Holidays

happy holidays

happy holidaysAbingdon, Bristol and Johnson City

Most of us are so busy during the holidays. Adding to the chaos of your regular hectic schedule of school, kids, work, appointments, and church functions can make you vulnerable to predators. While you’re sizing up your turkey or even checking for the healthiest Christmas tree on the lot, there could be people targeting you. These people are scammers. Scams are as common as sale ads during the holiday season. Unfortunately, the elderly, more than other age groups, tend to fall victim to scammers. And, this time of year is when scammers hit the hardest. The Law Offices of Michael R. Munsey, P.C., want to help you avoid becoming the victim of a scam this time of year.

  • Doppelgängers: A doppelgänger, look-alike, or copycat website is a website that mimics another well-known, more secure safer website. Check your https:/ at the top of your screen. That “s” stands for security. Make sure everything is spelled correctly when entering a web address. One letter change means you’re visiting an entirely different site.
  • Shipping Notifications: Many scammers now use fake shipping notifications to gather your information. It may come in the form of an email or a postcard left on your doorstep. Don’t download that malware-filled fake link and don’t hand out personal information based on a letter attached to your door.
  • Fake Charity: Soliciting for charitable donations during the holidays is something we’ve all seen. Many times organizations such as the local firemen or police officers union, the Red Cross, Toys for Tots, and the Salvation Army work during the holidays to gather things for people in need. It is a great thing to donate to a good cause any time of the year, but you need to be careful. If you receive emails, letters, or phone calls from a charity, you should verify that charity online at www.give.org or givingmatters.guidestar.org to make sure it’s not a scam.
  • Temp Jobs: Taking a temporary or seasonal job is common around the holidays. Businesses need help, and you might want extra spending cash. However, any job posting that asks for personal information online or “pays for leads” is one to avoid.
  • Emergencies: If you receive a call from a “relative” (especially one that sounds different or uses an unknown number) saying they have been arrested, kidnapped, or hospitalized while traveling, stop. Don’t ever send money until you have contacted another loved one and verified all the information.
  • Santa Letters: There are several reputable companies that offer personalized letters from Santa Claus. Unfortunately, modern scammers are now even taking advantage of Santa Claus. They use these letters as a way to steal your personal and financial information. This is particularly targeted towards parents and grandparents.
  • Strange Methods of Payment: If you’re dealing with any company asking for payment in the form of prepaid debit cards, gift cards, or wire transfers, look elsewhere. These transactions cannot be traced or refunded, making it easy for you to get ripped off and never receive what you’re buying.
  • Gift Cards: Gift cards are always a great idea for the holidays—especially for a relative who has everything, a teenager that is difficult to please, or as a last-minute gift for a relative. You need to protect yourself when making these purchases. Avoid gift cards displayed in the open. If you choose one that is in a package, inspect the package or open it in front of the cashier to ensure it has not been replaced with a counterfeit. Keep your receipt and register the card online as soon as possible. If you can, try to choose a gift card that will require you to choose a PIN.
  • Pet Shopping: If your child or grandchild wakes up to see their first puppy on Christmas morning, it can be magical. Online pet sales are a shady endeavor, and looking for a specific breed can be costly. You might receive a pet in poor health from a “puppy mill.” Or you may receive nothing at all in exchange for your money.

Defending you against scams in Bristol

The Law Offices of Michael R. Munsey, P.C., want this to be the most wonderful time of the year. If you live in the Tri-Cities area of Kingsport, Johnson City, and Bristol, TN, or Bristol, VA, we wish you a safe and happy holiday season. However, if you have any questions about holiday scams or believe you or elderly loved one may have been the victim of a scam, contact our office by at (276) 451-2056. We’re here to help.