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Holiday Scams

The holiday season is a time of joy, giving, and celebration, but unfortunately, it’s also a time when scammers are more active than ever. For aging adults, the risk of falling victim to holiday scams can be especially high. As we age, it’s important to stay vigilant and protect ourselves from these cunning fraudsters. With The Senior Alliance, we can help you keep your loved ones safe from holiday scams this season.

Common Holiday Scams Targeting Older Adults

During the holidays, individuals are commonly more generous. People tend to give more willingly during the holiday season to charities, organizations, or causes. Because of this, scammers take this season to prey on those unassuming parties.

For our aging community, here are several scams to be aware of this holiday season:

  • Charity Scams: Scammers often pose as charitable organizations, tugging at heartstrings with heartwarming stories and requests for donations. To protect yourself, always verify the legitimacy of a charity before giving any money. Check with organizations like Charity Navigator or the Better Business Bureau to ensure the charity is legitimate.
  • Online Shopping Scams: With the rise of online shopping, older adults can be targeted with fake websites or counterfeit products. Always shop from trusted websites and never click on unsolicited links or pop-up ads.
  • Phishing Emails: Be cautious of phishing emails that appear to be from legitimate sources, like your bank or the IRS, asking for personal or financial information. Don’t click on any links or download attachments from suspicious emails.
  • Package Theft: “Porch pirates” are rampant during the holiday season. If you’re expecting a delivery, track it closely and consider having packages delivered to a trusted neighbor or your local post office for safekeeping.

Tips for Older Adults to Stay Vigilant

AARP compiled a list of essential tips to help aging individuals safeguard themselves against holiday scams. These measures will not only ensure a joyful and stress-free holiday season but also empower you to navigate the digital age with confidence. Follow these tips to avoid holiday scams:

  • Educate Yourself: Stay informed about the latest scams and frauds targeting older adults. Knowledge is your best defense against scammers.
  • Verify Before You Trust: Before giving out personal or financial information, verify the legitimacy of the person or organization requesting it. If in doubt, contact them directly using contact information you find independently, not what they provide.
  • Secure Your Finances: Be cautious when sharing banking or credit card information. Use strong, unique passwords and consider using two-factor authentication for added security.
  • Watch for Red Flags: Be wary of unsolicited calls, emails, or text messages. Scammers often use urgency, pressure, or emotional appeals to manipulate victims.
  • Don’t Be Pressured: Scammers may try to rush you into making decisions. Take your time to think things through and consult with a trusted family member or friend.
  • Block Unsolicited Calls: Consider using call-blocking apps or services to filter out unwanted calls and reduce the risk of falling for phone scams.

To learn more about financial protections you can take as an aging adults, or if you’re looking to protect someone you love, check out the Inside The Senior Alliance podcast episode with Dr. Peter Lichtenberg, Director of the Institute of Gerontology at Wayne State University and the creator of the Successful Aging thru Financial Empowerment (SAFE) program to protect aging adults from financial abuse. In the coming December episode of Inside the Senior Alliance, our CEO, Jason Maciejewski, will sit down with Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel to continue the conversation about holiday scams affecting aging adults in our area. If you have questions now, please reach out to an Information Specialist at 1-800-815-1112 to be connected with additional resources available to you in our services area.

While holiday scams can be distressing, seniors can protect themselves by staying informed, vigilant, and cautious. By following these tips and arming themselves with knowledge, aging adults can enjoy the holiday season without falling victim to scams. Remember, your financial and personal information is valuable, and it’s worth taking the extra steps to keep it safe. Celebrate the holidays with joy and peace of mind, knowing you’ve taken steps to protect yourself.

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