The internet provides so many wonderful tools and opportunities, but not without risks. Protecting yourself against online scams has never been more important, keep reading for some helpful tips on staying vigilant and protecting yourself against scams.
Though online scams can (and likely will) affect everyone at some point, they are especially prevalent among older adults. Knowing the telltale signs of a scam will help protect your personal information, including financials.
At Eskaton, we do our best to keep residents informed to ensure they are protected against any type of scam. Our staff is always available and can assist if a resident fears they were contacted by a scammer.
The following are a few examples of scams the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns against.
Free COVID tests for those on Medicare
Medicare recipients have reported receiving fake offers for free COVID tests as a way to gain the individual’s Medicare information. Once they have a person’s personal information, they can bill for services never rendered.
Charging for COVID-19 vaccines
There is currently no cost associated with receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, anyone that attempts to charge for this service is acting fraudulently.
Posing as a government agency
If someone contacts you via email or phone claiming to represent the government and asks for payment in the form of cash, gift cards, wire transfers or cryptocurrency, do not provide any information to them. The government would never use these methods to collect payment from you so you can rest assured that you protected yourself against a scam.
If you find yourself on an unfamiliar site, check its credibility first before inputting personal identifiers or credit card information. Search online using the business name plus “complaints,” “reviews” and “scam.” If you see any suspicious information about the company, refrain from doing business with them.
Offers of help
If someone you don’t know offers to shop for you or pick up prescriptions, consider turning instead to a trusted friend, neighbor or credible delivery service. Entrusting a stranger with your credit card or cash can be dangerous, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Individuals posing as grandchildren asking for help
Scammers know just how to tug at your heart strings to get what they want and will sometimes pose as a grandchild or other family member in distress. They may either call or send text messages saying that it’s an emergency and they need cash sent to them in one of several ways. Do not respond or send any of your personal information and if you need the peace of mind, reach out to your grandchild to confirm that is was not them and to alert them of the attempted scam.
Messages that appear from well-known companies
Commonly, scammers will pose as well-known companies such as Costco, Home Depot or a major drugstore chain and offer a free product in exchange for your participation in a brief survey. Filling out the survey will provide them with the personal information they need to access your accounts.
Steps you can take to avoid online scams
- When shopping online, only visit well-known and trusted sites.
- Don’t respond immediately if someone asks for money or personal information.
- Verify callers claiming to be family by asking questions a stranger couldn’t answer.
- Don’t send cash, gift cards or money transfers. Once it’s sent, it is nearly impossible to retrieve.
- Never share your Medicare information with anyone you don’t know.
- Don’t click on links in texts or emails asking you to complete a survey for a free item.
- Contact a company yourself if you’re unsure if a communication is real.
What to do if you get caught up in an online scam
It’s frustrating and often embarrassing to admit you’ve been scammed but it has happened to the best of us. Unfortunately, scammers have had a lot of practice and know just how to gain the information they need.
Consider the following steps if you realize you’ve just been scammed:
1. If you provided your personal information:
Visit IdentityTheft.gov for steps to take, including how to monitor your credit.
2. If you paid a scammer with a credit or debit card:
Contact the company or bank that issued the card and let them know it was a fraudulent charge. Ask them to credit your account back.
3. If the scammer made an unauthorized transfer from your bank account:
Contact your bank and tell them the transfer was unauthorized and ask them to return the funds removed.
4. If you paid a scammer with a gift card:
Contact the company that issued the gift card and tell them it was used in a scam. Ask if they’ll refund your money.
5. If you sent a wire transfer to a scammer:
Contact the company you used and let them know it was a fraudulent transfer. Ask them to reverse the transfer and refund your money.
6. If you sent money through a money transfer app:
Report the fraud to the company behind the app and ask them to reverse the payments. If the app was linked to a credit or debit card, report to the credit card company or bank to reverse the charge.
7. If you paid the scammer with cryptocurrency:
Unfortunately, payments sent in the form of cryptocurrency are not typically reversible but you should still report the charge and you can always ask the company hosting your currency if they can do anything about it.
8. If you sent cash:
If you sent cash by U.S. mail, contact the USPS at 877-876-2455 and ask if they can intercept the package. If you used a delivery service other than the USPS, reach out to them to stop the delivery.
9. Report the scam to the FTC:
The FTC can use the information you provide to build a case against the scammer, spot trends, and educate the public. If you experienced a fraud or know of one, report it at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
Life at Eskaton Communities
We believe in the magic and purpose within each of our residents and see each day as an opportunity to enhance their lives. In fact, Eskaton is defined as “the dawning of a new day.” We’ve been proudly serving the Sacramento region and Northern California for over 50 years and look forward to many more.
The Eskaton Difference starts with our life-enriching programs and collaborative partnerships. With a national reputation for innovation, we focus on creating communities that provide our residents with everything they need for purposeful and passionate living.
We invite you to visit one of our award-winning communities to witness the magic yourself and learn about some of the amenities we offer, including:
- Private residences
- Delicious and nutritious meals
- Social opportunities to meet and make new friends
- Creative activities and therapies
- Fitness centers and exercise classes
- Housekeeping services
- Transportation services
- 24-hour staffing
- Free Wi-Fi
- And much, much more!
If you’re considering whether senior living could be the best choice for you or a loved one, we’re here to answer any questions that you may have. We also invite you to download our complimentary information, Just the Facts: Your Guide to Assisted Living. To schedule a personalized tour, call us at 1-866-ESKATON (1-866-375-2866) or visit eskaton.org.