29 Nov HAVE A SCAM-FREE HOLIDAY!
Dr. Sherry McCoy PhD
is a freelance writer & actor for the Stop Senior Scams Acting Program (SSSAP) in Los Angeles. Follow SSSAP on Facebook . For more info re: SSSAP, contact Adrienne Omansky at SSSAP4U@gmail.com. Questions for the writer should be directed to “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“HAVE A SCAM-FREE HOLIDAY!”
Dr. Sherry McCoy, PhD – Stop Senior Scams ℠ Acting Program*
It’s December 2019 and the holiday season has arrived! Most of us are already busy looking for the best holiday gift deals we can find. Whether we’re shopping online or braving the department stores and gift shops, it’s always a hectic time of year. Wherever our shopping takes us, it makes good sense to be sure that the money we spend or donate is going for the “real” thing. Holiday scammers are hoping we won’t take the time to investigate or look closely at products before we make a purchase. They’re hoping we’ll be so caught up in the “holiday rush” to find the perfect gift for the perfect price, that we’ll throw caution to the wind, and invest in their shoddy products and fraudulent schemes. We can’t let them get away with that! Instead, let’s be smart and savvy holiday shoppers, and stop those con artists in their tracks! Here are some pro-active tips to help us navigate shopping in this holiday season.
AVOID CHARITY CONS
Before you donate to a charity, do your homework and make sure your money is going where you want it to go; not into the hands of a con artist. Follow these guidelines:
● Find out how much of your donation will go to the charity’s mission, operating costs, etc. In general, legitimate charities “spend less than 35 percent of donations on fundraising and administrative costs.” (AARP Bulletin, March 2011)
● Contact one of these non-profits to verify the legitimacy of a charity.
Charity Navigator (www.charitynavigator.org)
Guide Star (http://www.guidestar.org/)
Wise Giving Alliance (www.give.org)
HOTEL / FRONT DESK SCAM
If you plan to travel during the holiday season, beware of a hotel/front desk scam that would certainly put a damper on your holiday plans! Here’s how the scam works – You check into your hotel room and once you get cozy and comfortable, the phone rings and the caller says she/he is calling from the front desk and there’s a problem with your credit card. The caller asks for card # verification, expiration date and security # on the back of the credit card. Problem is — the caller is a scammer! Don’t give the caller any info; instead, hang up and go to the front desk to report the call.
STEER CLEAR OF COUNTERFEIT WEBSITES
Be on the lookout for dishonest businesses that create “copycat” websites by stealing or plagiarizing website domain names of well-known companies (e.g., Louis Vuitton, Tiffany, etc.). “Copycat” websites offer inexpensive, but poor quality knock-offs that pose as the real thing. To determine if a website is legitimate, consider these recommendations.
● Call the customer service phone number on a website to see if you can reach a live person. No? Avoid it.
● Contact corporate headquarters of the real company to verify any “bargains” advertised at other websites.
● Contact the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any records of past complaints about the website.
● Go to www.whois.net and find out who actually owns the website’s name.
● Look carefully at the web address in your browser. If it does not end in “.com” or “.org”, avoid it.
(AARP Bulletin, May 24, 2010)
USE COMMON SENSE
Most importantly, use the common sense intelligence you’ve earned by living life over the past 50 to 90+ years!
● DO NOT leave packages and your handbag / wallet in the car where they are visible.
● Drop off letters & packages inside the Post Office. DO NOT leave them outside the door for the mail carrier to pick up.
● USE GEL PENS to write checks you may send in the mail. Scammers can’t “wash” your checks and reuse them for their own purposes because gel ink won’t wash away.
If you have questions about Medicare fraud / abuse, or believe you have been the victim of Medicare fraud contact the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP*) at 1-855-613-7080. If you feel you have been the target or victim of a scam, report it to the FTC at 877-382-4357 or https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1.
We at SSSAP want to say “Thank You!” to all the people we met and all the places we visited in 2018!
Remember: You may be a target, but you don’t have to be a willing victim!
*Dr. Sherry McCoy, PhD, is a freelance writer & actor for the Stop Senior Scams ℠ Acting Program (SSSAP) in Los Angeles. Follow SSSAP on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SSSAP2016. For more info re: SSSAP, contact Adrienne Omansky at SSSAP4U@gmail.com. Questions for the writer should be directed to “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or email@example.com.