Every week in the news there are stories about older adults being victims of gift card scams. While these scams are not exclusive to older adults, it is evident that they are a common target.
So what happens? Here are a few examples:
- It was reported that a fraudulent solicitor had targeted a Shaker Heights woman, 76, urging her to purchase gift cards from various retailers. The woman complied and bought $5,000 worth of gift cards before a Target employee alerted her to the fraud. Police are investigating.
- A man reported Feb. 1 that his father, a 78-year-old resident, had bought $100,000 worth of gift cards after receiving a message on his computer. He said his father believed his computer had been hacked and he provided the gift card numbers to an unknown person who said they could fix it.
Other examples include calls about social security benefits, online shopping and other accounts being hacked, grandchildren being arrested and more. A common request is that they want you to purchase gift cards to fix the problem.
Our message to CARE Members and all seniors is BE PREPARED. Have a plan ahead of time on how to respond to these professional scammers. The person on the phone will work hard to persuade you, and they make a business out of being professional manipulators. Remember the first communication may not be a call, but could be a request through your computer, your phone text, or something in the mail.
Step 1 – STOP
Step 2 – THINK
- Recognize It is a SCAM By Asking Yourself
- Is this person asking for me to buy gift cards to fix a problem or for payment? IT IS A SCAM. There is no reason for you to buy gift cards, no matter what the person on the phone tells you.
Step 3 – ACT
- HANG UP
- BLOCK THE NUMBER – If they continue to call you, contact the police.
- TELL A FAMILY MEMBER OR SOMEONE YOU TRUST
- Never be embarrassed to ask a family member or someone you trust about this type of call and someone asking you to buy gift cards. Chances are they can help you with determining if there actually is an issue and how to address it.
- Report it to the Attorney General’s Office
CARE provides education, information and resources to help our members with being prepared in various situations that affect older adults. Emergency Preparedness, Safety and Prevention.