Like me, I hope you have fond memories of your grandparents. When invited to grandma’s house for lunch, I could always count on having something on the table she knew I liked. Grandparents are very special and we need to care for them as much as they care for us.
Unfortunately our grandparents, parents and older adults are the target of many types of scams received over the phone or via an email. These scams attempt to deceive with promises of goods, services, financial benefits or the need to send money to pay taxes, fees or to help someone they love. Their stories are contrived for one purpose and one purpose only, to get money. Below is just one example of these schemes.
Scammers place a call to an older person and when they answer, the scammer will say something along the lines of: “Hi Grandma, do you know who this is?” When the unsuspecting grandparent guesses the name of the grandchild the scammer most sounds like, the scammer has established a fake identity without having done a lick of background research.
Once “in,” the fake grandchild will usually ask for money to solve some unexpected financial problem (overdue rent, payment for car repairs, etc.), to be paid via Western Union or MoneyGram, which don’t always require identification to collect. At the same time, the scam artist will beg the grandparent “please don’t tell my parents, they would kill me.”
One of the best ways to protect our loved ones from these types of tactics is to talk with them about it. Building awareness is the first step. If they are willing, another step might be helping them with paying bills and balancing their bank accounts.
If you have been or know someone who has been a victim; don’t be afraid to talk about it with someone you trust. You are not alone, and there are people who can help. Doing nothing could only make it worse. Keep handy the phone numbers and resources you can turn to, including the local police, your bank (if money has been taken from your accounts), and Adult Protective Services at 1-855-444-3911. Call anytime day or night to report suspected abuse of vulnerable adults.
Have you ever received one of these bogus tech support calls? The fraudster calls claiming to be from technical support at Microsoft, Apple, or other well-known companies. They say that they’ve detected viruses or malware on your computer to trick you into paying for software you don’t need or worse yet, convince you to give them remote access to your computer to fix the problem.
These fraudsters take advantage of your concerns about viruses and other threats. They know most computer users have heard over and over that it’s important to install and maintain security software. But the purpose behind this elaborate scam isn’t to protect you and your computer; it’s to make money.
Once they have gained your trust, they may:
- Ask you to give them remote access to your computer and then make changes to your settings that could leave your computer vulnerable.
- Try to enroll you in worthless computer maintenance or warranty program.
- Ask for credit card information so they can bill you for phony services – or services you could get elsewhere for free.
- Trick you into installing malware that could steal sensitive data, like user names and passwords to online financial sites, your email account, and more.
- Direct you to websites and ask you to enter your credit card number and other personal information.
Regardless of the tactics they use, they have one purpose; it’s to make money.
If you get one of these calls, HANG UP! Microsoft, Apple or any other company will not call you proactively in this way. The caller will likely try to create a sense of urgency or use high-pressure tactics to get you to do what they want; Just Hang Up!
If you believe you may have been a victim of one of these scam calls, don’t panic. Instead:
- Unplug your computer from the internet.
- Take your computer to a local reputable business that specializes in fixing computers; let them know what happened.
- Once your computer has been repaired, or via another computer/device, change your passwords on all online financial and email sites you use and any other passwords you gave out.
- If you paid for bogus services with a credit card, call your credit card provider and ask to reverse the charges. Check your statements for any other charge’s you didn’t make, and ask to reverse those too.
Check back for more information on the next Mercantile Bank Security Minute.