Scams aren’t new. They’ve been happening for years now. Most scammers and con artists will choose to prey on the most vulnerable in society, our elders. This can be bad, especially if you’re a senior business owner. The elderly are very susceptible to scams because they’re often quick to trust and are easier to manipulate, especially if they have trouble with their memory. They also aren’t as tech-savvy as younger generations, which leaves them very vulnerable to online or mobile scams. You, being a senior business owner, also makes you a better target because they’ll know that you have money to give.
Scams have gotten even worse now that a pandemic has arisen. Con artists are getting desperate for a new scam, and they’re getting even more creative with their ideas. The COVID-19 pandemic has given them more opportunities to use people’s fear of the virus against their victims. We all know that seniors are the most susceptible to the virus. Con artists are using this information to their advantage.
Some of the most common scams related to COVID-19 include scams claiming to sell vaccines for the virus. Or con artists randomly calling or sending emails, claiming to offer to sanitize people’s homes. Some even go as far as to say they have the cure to COVID-19. All of which is not true. There is no vaccine for the virus and definitely no cure, not yet at least. Some services do sanitize people’s homes, but they will never call out of the blue or email you out of nowhere to offer their services.
There are plenty of other scams out there, such as charity scams, home improvement scams, news scams, and even insurance scams. Con artists scam billions of dollars out of seniors each year. If you want to avoid getting scammed and risking the closure of your business, here are a few things you should do:
1. Think twice before you click any links
If you get an email with an offer that seems too good to be true, such as emails that say you’ve won the lottery or a big prize, don’t click on any links that may be on the email. Always check who the email came from. If it says that it comes from the bank, you can always call your bank to see if it really is from them or if it’s a possible scam. If it says that it’s from a charity and they’re asking you to donate money, visit Charity Navigator or Better Business Bureau to see if it actually is a real charity before sending any money or giving out your personal information.
2. Never give out your personal information to anyone
Whether it be an email or a phone call, always be careful about who you give your personal information. Don’t be quick to respond to emails that seem suspicious. If you get a call from someone claiming to be the bank, remember that they will never ask you for your bank account details, username, or password. Your bank will already have this information and don’t need to ask for these things. The same goes for those who claim to be from insurance companies.
If they claim to have forgotten your information, it’s a con artist trying to bait the information out of you. If they mention some of your personal information and some of them are wrong, don’t try to correct them. This is a trick they use to get you to give out your information unknowingly. If the caller keeps pressing you for information and even threatens you, they are con artists. Decline to give out your personal information and end the call, especially if they get aggressive.
3. Do your own research
As mentioned above, always check to see who is emailing you or what the email is about. If you’re suspicious of the email, you can do a simple copy paste and Google search check. Just copy the content of the email and copy it onto the Google search engine. If it’s a scam, you will see reports or articles from other people saying it’s a scam. You should also Google the name of the person or the company emailing you.
If you get a call or an email claiming to be family, you can always ask your family members if it’s true. If you’re a grandparent, there is such a thing called the “grandchild in jail scam.” With this scam, an unknown caller will call you claiming that your grandchild has ended up in jail or got into an accident, and you’ll have to send cash to a bail bond agent to get them out. A simple way to check if this is really true is to directly contact your grandchild or their parents before sending out any money.
Remember, con artists will also do their own research on their victims to make themselves sound as legitimate as possible. Con artists actually have many similar traits that give them away. Take note:
- Con artists will either play on your hopes or fears to get what they want from you.
- They will either sell something to you that sounds too good to be true, or they will lure you into giving them money by preying on your worst fears.
- They will ask questions about your personal information, which legitimate companies should never do, especially when it comes to a bank account, credit card details, or just money in general.
- They will ask for money upfront and demand that you pay right away.
- They will get aggressive if you don’t give them what they want.
To know more about the different kinds of scams, visit the FBI website page on common scams and crimes. Learn to keep yourself and your business safe from these scams.