At Bethesda Gardens in Arlington, TX, we want all our assisted living residents to stay safe — whether that means keeping up with good health habits, taking advantage of the security of our community or avoiding scams that exploit seniors.
To that end, we've provided details about three common tactics scammers are currently using to steal money and identities from people. Many of these scams purposely target seniors, and while you don't have to live in constant fear of scammers or hackers, it's a good idea to know some of these signs that someone may be trying to take advantage of you.
1. The IRS Calling for Your Arrest
Scammers are using the fear many people have of the IRS to talk people into releasing funds or buying gift cards and sending them to an anonymous location. The scam typically works like this:
Don't fall for this one, even though the warning sounds dire. The IRS never makes these types of robocalls, and it almost never calls you without first mailing explanations of issues and allowing you time to dispute them.
What to do if you're targeted by this scam: Hang up on the call.
What to do if you're still worried: You can call the IRS customer service line (1-800-829-1040) to be reassured about your tax status.
2. Your Computer May Have a Virus
Hackers attach fake pop-ups (windows that pop up on your computer screen) to a variety of online sources. That means you can be browsing cookie recipes or looking at Facebook and get an alarming message about issues with your computer. These messages don't come from the protective software you might be running on your computer (like McAfee).
The messages tend to instruct you to either click on a link to get help or call a number for help. Either way, you're often talked into paying hundreds of dollars for protection or virus services that don't really exist — or do very little if they do exist.
What to do if you see one of these messages online: Close completely out of your browser.
What to do if you're still worried: Take your computer to a trusted friend or professional to have it checked out.
3. Your Loved One Needs Money Now
Criminals can clone phone numbers, which means they can text or call you and have it look like it's coming from a known number. They can also hack into email accounts and social media profiles. That all leads to seniors receiving urgent messages that look like they come from children, grandchildren or others.
The messages or calls may state that your loved one is in danger and needs money now. They may request you transfer money, leave cash somewhere or wire money. In reality, your loved one is often safe and going about their day while criminals wait for the cash you send.
What to do if you receive this type of message or phone call: Try to reach out to your loved one to find out if they sent the message. Call their friends or family, or even the police, if you're concerned about their safety.