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How to stop schemes against seniors

National Grandparents Day is Sunday. The Better Business Bureau is warning seniors are particularly vulnerable to schemes.

SAN ANTONIO — Texas seniors lost almost $100,000 to schemes so far in 2022 according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

The BBB reported seniors lose about $200 when schemed. That is the highest median value of any age group.

“As far as money lost, there is more money going out the door with our seniors,” said Jason Meza, the regional director of the BBB.

The three top schemes for seniors are: 

  • False online purchases
  • Lottery fraud
  • Phishing scams

“We can all help guide our senior consumers along with new technology, especially with mobile devices, with apps, help protect them from aggressive marketing tactics and ensure that they know the latest fraud attempts so they are safer,” said Meza.

Online Purchase Schemes

  • Be wary of deals too good to be true.
  • If there is any pressure to buy quickly, do not purchase.
  • Do some research before you buy. Look the business up on the BBB. Also, search the business along with the words “scam” and “complaints.”
  • Make sure you are using protected payment methods like credit cards because you can void transactions and get a refund. Wire transfers, gift cards, and peer-to-peer cash apps do not allow you to recover any money.
  • Make sure the website is secure if you buy online. Look for “s” in “https” in the URL. The “s” means secure and includes encryption protocols that are not available in an “http” URL. Be sure to look for a lock icon in the web address, too.

Lottery Schemes

  • If you did not enter a contest, you did not win.
  • Before entering contests and giveaways, read the fine print to find out in detail how winners will get the prize.
  • Do not pay any fees to get a prize. Also, do not buy an item to improve your chance of winning. That includes paying for taxes, shipping, handling, or processing fees. If you have to pay anything, it is not free.
  • Plus, be careful if you receive a check, it can bounce weeks after deposit. You are out that money if you spend it. Do some checking before you deposit. Make sure the company name or address is spelled correctly. Verify the check has the correct routing number for the bank it is drawing from. Be sure the check number matches on the top right matches the far-right number on the bottom.
  • Be aware how a sweepstake communicates with you. You should not be notified by text or bulk mail. No legitimate company will insist you respond within 24 hours.

Phishing Schemes

  • Verify you are communicating with the correct business or entity. Check with the organization before replying to texts or emails. Fraudsters like to disguise themselves as well-known businesses or government organizations.
  • Do not reveal your personal information through texts or emails. 
  • Do not click on links from an unknown sender.
  • Do not respond to unsolicited messages. Generic emails are often schemers hoping to get a reply.
  • Use multi-factor authentication to protect your accounts. If your account offers two credentials to access it, turn on the feature. This might be a security code sent by text message or email in addition to a password.

Fraudsters often single out people 65 and older because they can be vulnerable to schemes. Take the time to talk with any senior loved ones so they are aware of these schemes.

If you see a scheme or become a victim, report it to the BBB Scam Tracker and the Federal Trade Commission. You could stop someone else from becoming a victim.

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