Don’t let fraud or identity theft ruin your holiday season. There are a variety of ways scammers can take advantage of goodwill during the holidays – and often, these scams target older adults. To safeguard against financial crimes this holiday season, the Better Business Bureau offers these timely tips for older adults and their caregivers.
- Be cautious with charitable giving. November and December are two of the busiest months of the year for charitable organizations to solicit contributions. Before giving, ask questions of the charity and do not contribute until you are satisfied with the answers. Be wary of an organization’s reluctance to provide answers about revenue, expenses, programs and services. Always give by check or credit card, and make the check payable to the charity, not the individual collecting the donation. Finally, before giving to any charity, check out the organization with the BBB Wise Giving Alliance. Find reports on national charitable organizations at www.bbb.org/charity. To access reports on local charities, go to www.evansville.bbb.org.
- Use direct deposit. Your mail – both incoming and outgoing – can be vulnerable, especially during the holidays when criminal activity peaks. If your Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) check is delivered by mail to an unlocked mailbox, your check could be stolen. Direct deposit eliminates the risk of lost or stolen checks, reduces fraud and gives people faster access to their money on pay day. Direct deposit also protects against identity theft. For more information about enrolling in direct deposit of your Social Security or SSI payment, call the Go Direct helpline at (800) 333-1795 or sign-up online at www.GoDirect.org.
- Don’t fall victim to financial scams. The holidays mean family, friends, and, many times, increased spending! Thieves may try to offer seniors an easy way to make some extra money through fake check scams. These scams have common patterns – scammers contact victims through the mail or online and send them realistic-looking checks or money orders. The scammers then ask for some portion of the money to be wired back to them. The problem: it may take weeks for your bank to discover the check or money order is a fake, and when the bank wants its money back, you’re financially responsible. Some popular scams involve foreign business offers, rental schemes and work-at-home opportunities. To learn more about fake check scams and to report fraudulent activity, go to www.FakeChecks.org.
Arm yourself with information. The BBB offers safe shopping advice and other helpful tips at www.evansville.bbb.org. When in doubt, always check things out. Consult with trusted family members, friends or neighbors before making a major purchase or check with the BBB for consumer tips and alerts.
For more information on this press release, please contact Tom Bozikis or Cathy Eichele at 473-0202. To learn more about your Tri-State BBB, visit www.evansville.bbb.org.
BBB, the leader in advancing marketplace trust, is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB provides objective advice, free business BBB Reliability Reports® and charity BBB Wise Giving Reports®, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, BBB offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there is a difference in viewpoints. The organization is also a recognized leader in developing and administering self-regulation programs for the business community, and, with respect to the advertising industry, does that through a joint venture in conjunction with National Advertising Review Council partners. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 123 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring more than four million local and national businesses and charities. Visit www.bbb.org for more information.