If so, you've got lots of company. The FTC says in the first three quarters of last year, consumers have fallen victim to shopping scams and criminals impersonating businesses. But the biggest scams are tech support scams, which have cost Americans a whopping $157.8 million as of this past September. And that's because millions of Americans are unwittingly helping them.
People who've just lost money through being scammed are emotionally vulnerable, so they're prime targets for criminals all too ready to help you recover money you lost to some third party – for a fee up front. Or for personal information which they can use to steal your identity.
The first thing you should do is cut your losses. If you've given money or financial information to a scammer, call your bank, credit card company, payment app, or other financial institution. Most banks and cards will return lost money, so ask them for a reversal or refund. If you've given only personal information, turn on credit fraud monitoring or freeze your credit.
Another thing you should do is change the passwords on the accounts which were scammed. When you do, don't reuse a password or pick anything obvious. (You might want to change all your passwords just to play it safe.) And do make sure and record it someplace safe, like a password manager.
The horse may have been stolen, but lock the barn door anyway. Change the passwords on all your accounts, then turn on the app that reports transactions real time and multifactor authentication for key accounts, including financial, email, messaging, and social media.
If it's on the Internet, don't trust; verify. Scammers have many ways to make their scams look legitimate. Some buy search ads for keywords about being taken in by scams, getting into hacked accounts, or recovering money. Others have automatic autoresponses offering help to scam victims posting on social media. Still others get their positions at the top of the search page the old fashioned way, by paying for it, so don't take that as a sign of legitimacy. And be on the lookout for websites that ask for payments like gift cards. wire transfers, Venmo or PayPal.
If it seems too good to true, it probably is. If a company isn't asking money up front, that could mean it's in the information gathering phase. Use Google, Reddit, Trustpilot, and the Better Business Bureau to check them out before you tell them anything.
Report the crime. Report it to your local police. Look up your your state's attorney general's office or the department of consumer affairs. You can also report it to https://www.ic3.gov/home/complaintchoice, reportfraud.ftc.gov, identitytheft.gov, , bbb.org/scamtracker/reportscam fraud.org, and aarp.org. And be sure the government URLs end in .gov or .us.
Of course, there are other, honest, ways to dissipate your hard-earned assets. Some senior care companies, with the best of intentions, bundle different services into packages. This is fine of you need every single service in the package, but if not, you lose both money and independence over time. Others may lack a way of defining which services you need and which you don’t, with the same result.
That’s not the way we at Senior Insights work. Before we recommend any care, we conduct a thorough three-part assessment of your physical, emotional, cognitive, and psychosocial needs with you and your family. Only then do we create a custom-designed holistic coordinated senior care management plan built around your individual priorities, values, preferences, schedule, hobbies and interests, and trade-offs you’re willing to make. And rather than keep that plan static, our monthly registered nurse visits include mini-needs assessments, to make sure your care matches your needs as they change over time.
Please contact us to lean more about senior care management planning that saves the two costs of unnecessary over-care: the monetary cost and the cost to independence.