Scam artists use an array of techniques -- forms sent in the mail, telephone calls, or emails - this time of year to get money from unsuspecting victims.
As a public service, Fox Run retirement community in Novi, MI, recaps the scams making the rounds and offers tips to help you avoid them:
- The "Medicare Call" - a person calls, claiming to represent Medicare or Medicaid, and wants to send you a new card. They ask you to verify your Social Security number or bank account number. They may lie and say if you don't give them the information, you will lose access to the benefits.
- The "Grandchild in Jail" - You receive a phone call from a scam artist pretending to be a family member or a police officer, stating that their grandchild is in jail and needs money for bail or legal representation. They then request a wire transfer to a fraudulent account.
- The "Free Trip or Prize" - a person tells you that they have won a trip or a prize and you need to claim the prize by sending a "processing fee," typically hundreds of dollars. Or, instead of a holding fee, they request a credit card or Social Security number to process the prize.
There are many ways to protect yourself from these criminals. If someone is offering you something for free or nearly no cost, it's probably too good to be true. They are trying to use the excitement of winning to cloud your judgment.
Never give out any information over the phone or to someone you do not know. Do not trust your caller ID. Criminals have ways of blocking or changing the number they are calling from.
Ask a family member or friend for help when dealing with these types of situations. Criminals will try to pressure you to act quickly on their offer, or keep quiet and not ask someone about their offer. While it might be humbling or embarrassing to ask for help, it's much better to ask for help than to lose thousands of dollars, or your identity, to these thieves.