Resolve to protect yourself and your money in the New Year

Resolve to protect  yourself and your money in the New Year
January 30
01:25 2020

By Robin H Hurdle

I find that the new year offers an unusual foreshadowing of what the future can bring with its “20/20” vision. I like to think of this new year as the Year of Focus. 

How can we put in place measures to safeguard our life savings? If you are retired and trying to be wise with your money, let’s talk about the top scams that have taken thousands of dollars from many people like yourself. 

Here I can speak from experience. One of the top scams that has swindled so many people is the “Grandparent Scam,” which actually happened to my parents. They received a late-night phone call informing them that my son, their grandson, was in jail and he needed money and was afraid to call his parents. The caller even went so far as to have someone sounding like my son talk with them on the phone. You would think that they would know their own grandson’s voice, but I believe in a highly emotional situation, they were caught off guard. The scammers scared my parents into acting immediately without thinking everything through. 

The first red flag was that the payment had to be on a certain type of prepaid credit card. The second red flag was the increase in the amount once my parents paid the first payment. By the time I realized something was going on with my parents, it was too late. The money was gone. The scammers were untraceable. Neither the police nor the bank could get my parents’ money back.

How can you make sure this doesn’t happen to you?  Here are a few simple tips:

*Have a family plan with the members of your family. Use a code word or phrase to question the authenticity of the caller. An example would be to ask the caller, “I thought you were at Uncle Rex’s in Florida?” The truth is there is no uncle or anyone else in the family named Rex. The caller will have to give you an answer and this should be a tell-tale sign if this is a scam. 

*Secondly, make sure you write down their name, phone number and where they are saying they are calling from. If they claim to be with the police department, Social Security Administration or IRS, hang up, find the local phone number and call that number back—not the number they called you from. Never, and I mean NEVER give your Social Security number to someone claiming to be with the SSA or IRS. They will never contact you by phone.

*Email scams are also big. We have all heard about the guy in Nigeria needing help with a plane ticket or receiving an email that looks a lot like it is from your bank or credit card company. In this technical world, it only takes a few seconds for scammers to steal from you once they have valuable information. Always call your bank or credit card company to verify documentation in emails. 

You can also find many informative articles on the Internet to help you to avoid being scammed. It would be a great public service if grocery stores, drug stores and other places that sell these types of prepaid credit cards would train their employees about the signs of someone possibly being scammed so they can alert the customer. Even a large warning sign about scams placed with the cards would be helpful.

If only my parents had taken the time to give it more thought, they would have known our sons are very close to us, so regardless as to what was going on, they would have called us first. Today scammers are high-tech savvy and very creative with their methods of extortion. 

Be proactive. Be focused in 2020.

Robin Hurdle and her husband Scott own a small business and live in Davidson County with their three dogs.

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