Don’t Get Scammed

Wow, you just won a free Caribbean cruise. Not only that, you were just informed you won a lottery. This must be your lucky day! Not so fast, you just got scammed.

Unfortunately, there are a number of scams out there directed toward seniors. Each year brings a new batch of these scams and in too many instances, seniors are losing millions of dollars to these thieves. As I’ve written in the past, we need to stay up with the latest scams to protect ourselves. Here are some of the most common new scams and ways we can avoid becoming victims:

The Sweepstake or Lottery Scams

In this scam you are notified you’ve won a large cash prize. All you need to do is pay a tax or fee and the money is yours. In some cases you will even receive a check for a large amount of money. Of course, once you have paid the tax or fee, and try to cash the check, it bounces.

Be smart enough to know when things are too good to be true. Actual sweepstake or lottery winners are not asked to pay up front to collect their prize. Obviously, the government would withhold taxes from your real winnings.

Charity Scams

Cold calls raising money for “charities” is one of the most popular calls directed at seniors. Even more troubling, these spring up most often in the wake of some disaster.

Don’t contribute to charities that cold call. I know this sounds harsh, but if you really want to contribute to a charity, seek one out that you know to be legitimate and make a donation.

The “Hi, Grandma” Scams

In this scam, a caller says “Hi, Grandma?” or “Hi, Grandpa?” followed by “Do you know who this is?” When you guess a name, they say “yes.” You are then already hooked. Next you will be asked to help out in their emergency for car repair, bail, rent, or some other calamity. Typically, you are asked to send the money by way of Western Union.

Should you receive one of these calls, don’t guess a name, simply ask who is calling. If you think it might be legitimate, tell them you will call back and check with another relative before you do.

Phishing Scams (email)

These scams take on various forms, but the bottom line is they are not legitimate investment opportunities or “Nigerian royalty” needing help offering you a large reward. Often the emails will look very legitimate and official. They get into individual’s email address books and are able to send out thousands and sometimes millions of emails at one time. For some reason, people make this very easy with their lax security measures. I got an email yesterday that was one of these scams and it came through the same “friend’s” email that I have received similar scams.

If you must send out group emails, do so through blind copies. Delete any suspicious emails or forwards. Do not respond to “official” institution emails until you have called them to double-check.

Government Agency Scams

In these scams, you are called or emailed, given some bogus reason for the contact, and then asked for your personal information and even asked for money to resolve an issue. My friend Manny just sent me a new one from Florida. The caller tells you that you did not appear for jury duty as requested. To clear up the matter you are asked for personal information such as social security number, date of birth, etc. In some cases, to clear up the matter, you are asked for your credit card information to pay a fine.

Don’t give out your personal information to anyone unless you are 100% sure it is legitimate, and even then, think twice before proceeding.


On a totally different subject, I’ve just discovered I’m actually a descendant of English royalty. My inheritance is tied up in some legal matters and if some of you could just send me a few dollars to clear this up, I’d be more than willing to share my fortune with you.  O.K., just kidding.

Personal Note:

Many of you know my wife Trisha injured her knee two years ago. After one  surgery failed to resolve the problem, she recently made the decision to undergo total knee replacement surgery. I’m happy to report she is recovering nicely, is well ahead of her therapy goals, and is already planning our next travel adventure. I want to thank those of you who sent prayers and kind messages. She is very grateful and will be up and dancing again very soon.

Trisha Parker

Trisha Parker


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