For Phil Cannella and the team at Crash Proof Retirement ®, consumer advocacy goes beyond retirement planning. While it is important for every senior to be thinking about safe retirement strategies that will prevent them from losing their savings to a volatile stock market crash, they also need to be thinking about ways to protect their nest eggs from another threat: scammers. Con artists specifically target seniors who may be lonely or living with a disease or disorder that causes impaired reasoning. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), these scammers rob seniors around the country of billions of dollars every year.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, scammers have found a completely new avenue to bilk American seniors out of their hard-earned retirement savings. If you want to protect yourself from coronavirus scammers, here are a few common cons to watch out for and some ways you can prevent yourself from becoming a victim.
- Grocery Scam: Because seniors are more vulnerable to COVID-19, they are encouraged to avoid spending time in crowded public places like grocery stores. Scammers may target seniors by offering to go shopping for them and deliver their groceries. They will ask for money up front and then never return with the groceries.
- Phishing Scam: Phishing scammers are looking for valuable personal information like social security numbers and bank account information. They may call and impersonate workers at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, or other medical organizations and tell seniors that they are selling a cure or vaccine. They may also claim that the senior is qualified to receive stimulus payments related to the outbreak as a way to get personal information.
- Testing Scam: Many people are concerned that they may be infected with COVID-19 but are not exhibiting any symptoms. Scammers have been traveling door to door claiming they are conducting COVID testing; they may even take swabs to make the con more convincing. Then, they will ask for payment or bank account information to complete the test.
- Cleaning Scam: Cleaning and disinfecting services are crucial to containing the outbreak. Some scammers may call and offer these types of services, asking for contactless payment over the phone as a way to get a senior’s credit card numbers.
- Charity Scam: There are plenty of legitimate charitable organizations collecting donations for aid related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Scammers may solicit donations for a fake charity and then pocket the money or use their ruse to steal bank account info and credit card numbers.
- Counterfeit Products: With N95 masks, face shields, and other personal protective equipment in short supply, scammers may take advantage of anxious seniors by offering counterfeit PPE products that look similar but don’t provide the same protective value as a way of stealing their money or financial information.
How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Scammers
The scams listed above are just a small selection of the tricks criminals use to prey on vulnerable seniors during an emergency or crisis. If you don’t want to be a victim of scammers, it helps to stay informed about specific scams. The Federal Trade Commission keeps a list of COVID-19 scams on their website. Since most scams are conducted over the phone, make sure you always hang up on robocalls, especially when unsolicited callers ask for your financial or other personal information. Scams can be conducted online, over text, or through email, and anyone can fall victim to these scammers if they are not careful and do their due diligence to check and verify their legitimacy. It is imperative that seniors stay alert and authenticate all communications from anyone claiming to be associated with the government, financial, or medical organizations.
As of the writing of this article, there is no cure or vaccine for COVID-19, so anyone claiming to be selling one is also a scammer. Be wary of door-to-door salesmen and unverified grocery delivery people, COVID testers, contact tracers, and charity workers. Always ask the person to confirm their identity and that they’re working in an official capacity before speaking with them. Never give out money, financial information, or social security numbers to anyone without verifying their identity first.
As you near retirement, or if you’re living in retirement you already have enough on your plate to worry about. You shouldn’t have to be kept up at night thinking about your finances. From stocks to scams there are threats that could pose a significant risk to your nest egg if you are not careful. At Crash Proof Retirement ®, we’ve educated thousands of consumers about proven retirement planning products that eliminate the risk of jeopardizing your hard-earned savings. Each proprietary Crash Proof Retirement ® System is specially designed and specifically tailored to meet the financial needs of each Crash Proof Consumer. To find out more about the exclusive Crash Proof Retirement ® System and how it can protect you from scams, call 1-800-722-9728, or visit our website at https://www.crashproofretirement.com to schedule a meeting with a licensed Retirement Phase Advisor.