29 Dec PROTECT YOUR WALLET FROM SCAMMERS
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.
PROTECT YOUR WALLET FROM SCAMMERS
Dr. Sherry McCoy, PhD – Stop Senior Scams ℠ Acting Program
Happy New Year and Welcome to January 2022! It’s a brand-new year. Time for a new start. Time to throw out what no longer serves us. Time to make space in our lives for something new (and improved)! And what better place to start than in our own wallet or purse. Most of us – myself included – carry around way too much junk, like old grocery lists, chewing gum wrappers, etc. But besides that, we may also be carrying around lots of important personal information which, were it to fall into the hands of a scammer, could be devastating. Sadly, we live in a time where identity theft has reached epidemic proportions. According to cybersecurity expert, John Clay, VP of Threat Intelligence for Trend Micro (a global cybersecurity company), consumers can best protect themselves from scammers and pickpockets by carrying only the bare minimum of personal information in their wallets. (1) This way, if your wallet is lost or stolen, you have much less to worry about when it comes to damage control. Here are some DO’s and DON’Ts to help you protect your wallet and steer clear of fraud in 2022.
WAYS TO SAFEGUARD YOUR WALLET
Many merchants now accept digital wallets as a method of payment for services or merchandise. A digital wallet contains digital versions of your credit and debit cards, and you pay using your smartphone. John Clay (1) suggests you carry only one credit card with you when you go shopping, because not all merchants accept digital wallets. All other credit cards can be put into a digital wallet, like Google Pay or Apple Pay. (2)
Make photocopies and/or take smartphone pics of the front and back of all your credit and debit cards. Keep this information in a safe place, so that if your wallet is lost or stolen, you know who to contact.
DO NOT carry the items listed below in your wallet or purse. Remove these items from your wallet and put them in a safe, secure place, such as a fireproof lock box, or a safe deposit box at your bank. (1)
- Birth certificate
- Checkbook – NOTE: Don’t even carry a single blank check in your wallet/purse
- COVID-19 vaccination record card – This card gives scammers your date of birth and clues about where you live. NOTE: Instead of carrying this card in your wallet, use your cellphone to take a digital photo of your COVID-19 vaccination record card. You can use this digital pic when needed to show proof of vaccination.
- Gift cards that have not been completely redeemed
- Library card – NOTE: Scammers can check out books in your name and sell them!
- List of your passwords
- Multiple credit cards and credit-card receipts – Note: Just carry one credit card in your wallet / purse
- Social Security Card
- Work ID card
Digital Driver’s License – According to the Washington Post (3), digital driver’s licenses may be in our future. Some states are moving ahead with the idea, and several others (including California) are seriously considering it. Meanwhile as of this writing here in California, you still need to carry your California driver’s license or California ID in your wallet / purse. But do make a copy of your driver’s license / State ID and keep it in a safe place.
Medicare Beneficiaries – Do not give out your Medicare Card information to anyone who contacts you via unsolicited phone calls, texts or emails. Guard your Medicare Card information as if it were gold!
If you have Original Medicare (1) — Carry your Medicare Card with you when you are away from home. You’ll need to show it to your doctor or health care provider when you get services. If you also have a Medicare Drug plan or supplemental coverage, you’ll need to carry that card as well. When you are not away from home, keep your Medicare Card in a safe place.
If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan or other Medicare health plan (1) — You will need to use your plan’s card to get services, not your Medicare Card. Carry your plan’s card in your wallet when you go to the doctor’s office or hospital. Keep your Medicare Card in a safe place.
To sum up, let us heed the words of Eric Leiserson, VP of Research & Marketing at IDology (a tech company specializing in ID verification and fraud deterrence) — “When it comes to carrying identity data in your wallet, ‘less is significantly safer.’” (1) In other words, let’s protect ourselves from scammers by decluttering our wallets and carrying just the essentials. Let’s carry lighter, safer, and smarter!
If you have any scam questions you would like answered, please feel free to contact me at “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or email@example.com. I’ll do my best to cover those topics in future articles. Happy New Year! May we all stay alert to old and new scams in 2022!
WHERE TO REPORT SCAMS
If you believe you have been the target or victim of a of a scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at 877-382-4357 or online at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1. 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, you may also report it to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging’s Fraud Hotline at 1-855-303-9470.
- “10 Worst Things to Carry in Your Wallet,” by Katherine Skiba, AARP, December 7, 2021, https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2021/wallet-protection.html
- “More and More, Your Smartphone is Replacing Your Wallet,” by Edward C. Baig, AARP, December 1, 2021, https://www.aarp.org/home-family/personal-technology/info-2021/digital-wallets.html
- “Your driver’s license could soon live on your phone. Here’s what you should know.” by Chris Velazco, Updated November 24, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/10/11/digital-drivers-license-mdl/
STOP SENIOR SCAMS℠ ACTING PROGRAM CONTINUES VIRTUAL PROGRAMMING
SSSAP continues virtual programs, and we are now booking in-person programs for 2022. Please contact Adrienne Omansky at SSSAP4U@gmail.com for more info, or if your organization would like to host our program.
STOP SENIOR SCAMS℠ ACTING PROGRAM on YOUTUBE
Please go to the SSSAP YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjFjb-WPPr8KAXq1dlu1EvA to see our new videos. If you subscribe (free of charge), you will be notified when new videos are released. Together we can Stop Senior Scams! Here are links to two of our most recent videos: “The Top Senior Scams with SSSAP” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cp097g7hTUg, and “Robocalls, Mail Fraud and Merlin with SSSAP” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dA3noym9JPo&t=186s.
Remember: You may be a target, but you don’t have to be a 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/?fref=ts. 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.