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COVID-19 scam complaints way up, seniors targeted most often

The pandemic has caused physical and mental health concerns but it is also affecting the financial health of many Americans.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has received more than 200,000 complaints about COVID-related fraud and indicates losses amount to $400 million.

While people of all ages can be targeted in a scam, senior citizens are targeted more often and losing more money. According to the FTC, seniors lost about $900 versus about $330 for a non-senior who had been scammed.

Tom Stephens from the Better Business Bureau says since seniors took the vaccine first, they were likely targeted with the latest scams about vaccines and COVID testing. He reminds seniors that there is no charge to get tested or to get the COVID shot.

Stephens also said older people may be more likely to be targeted in phone scams and/or even text scams. He reminds all of us that it may be best not to even bothering answering your phone unless you recognize the number.

“Most of them are going to be robocalls, and so the best advice — and it’s hard to tell this to people — but if you have a landline, you need to get yourself an answering machine and let the answering machine answer the phone,” says Stephens. “The same for a cell phone, don’t answer. Let the caller leave a message, and then you can decide if you want to call back.”

In all scams, Stephens says what the scammer wants is to get your “money, your personal information or both.”

He says there are obvious red flags, which include asking for money, gift cards, your Social Security number or Medicare number.

Stephens reminds seniors and those in other age groups that government agencies will not call you about COVID-related issues or anything else.

If you have been a victim of fraud you are urged to report the scam to the FTC.


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