Don’t Let The Grinch Steal Your Green This Christmas Pt. 25 min read
Last week we outlined a couple of the biggest scams older people are likely to encounter over the holidays. Turns out, the real-life Grinch who steals Christmas is more prevalent than ever. He comes in the form of a phone call, email, or other online scam, taking money from unsuspecting people throughout the holiday season and beyond. If you need a refresher on last week’s information, click here: https://www.optimalhomecare.com/holiday-scams/. If you’re all caught up, we’ll move forward with the last three common holiday scams older people are likely to run across this Christmas. Reminder, this list is not comprehensive. If you suspect a phone call, email, or website of attempting to steal from you, hang up your phone or exit your browser before giving away any personal information and contact the proper authorities.
Charitable Donation Scam
This is one of the most prevalent cons the Grinch is likely to use, and it usually comes in the form of a phone call (although emails are also used occasionally). You’ll receive a call from someone who claims to work for a charity or other non-profit organization; they may even claim to work somewhere you’ve donated in the past. They’ll ask for a donation and before you realize it’s a dupe you’ll be out a pretty penny. If you receive charitable donation calls this year, ask the caller to direct you to their website. Never send checks in the mail to an address given by a donation caller unless you’ve double checked the organization and its address. If you receive an email, be sure not to click any links on it. Instead, search for the organization online to verify its credibility.
Similar to the charitable donation scam, you’re most likely to get a phone call for vacation and timeshare scams but emails are also common. Crooks will promise a holiday deal on a vacation package for the family or a timeshare. In reality, the caller will have no stake in whatever real estate or amusement they’re “selling.” Similar to the charitable donation scam, ask callers to direct you to a website that you can check for validity. If they tell you that their offer is only available over the phone, it is likely a scam. Additionally, emails with multiple misspellings of common words should also be considered suspicious. Even if you think a timeshare or vacation package offer is legitimate, ask for the location, the open dates, the website name, and the name of the company offering the deal. Many times, callers will mix up this information or be unwilling to give any at all. In the either case, hang up immediately.
Gift Card Number Swiped
This is one of the few scams which can happen in person. When you’re out shopping, thieves can take pictures of or jot down gift card information and type in the numbers to use your remaining balance. More commonly, however, online hackers will use malware to gain access to your credit card rewards program, drain your points onto a gift card, then liquidate the card using a cash-for-gift-card service. This also does not necessarily have to be from a credit card rewards program, but can also come from any program that offers you cash back for shopping.
All five of the scams we explored this week and last week have real financial consequences for Americans every day. Keep yourself and your loved ones safe this season by sharing our articles and by staying aware of scams until Christmas and beyond.