Scammers More Active During Holiday Season; Experts Warn Senior Citizens

Dec 2, 2020, 7:56 PM | Updated: Dec 6, 2022, 11:06 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — While the holidays have many in a “giving mood,” there are many looking to do a lot of taking. Scammers work year-round, but they really cash in around Christmas.

“These scams happen throughout the year, but we do see an increase around the holiday time,” said Paul Leggett, Salt Lake County’s director of Aging and Adults Services. “We need to talk about these things so other people can be educated and informed.”

Leggett said that information is good for everyone to follow, but he was specifically talking about senior citizens.

Maybe it’s because seniors are more trusting and want to give this time of year.

Scammers know that, though, and will tell you either you won something and they need information, or someone you love is in trouble.

“They know that when you are afraid or overly excited, your decision making is bad. And scammers are far more sophisticated than ever,” said Alan Ormsby, director of AARP Utah.

Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera said her office has been seeing more scams involving gift cards.

The scammer will say some type of payment is due.

They might even say a family member needs money to bail out of jail and that payment can be made if you stay on the phone, go throughout town buying gift cards, and then read the numbers on the gift card to the scammer.

Sheriff Rivera said a Salt Lake County woman recently lost $9,000 this way.

It can be hard to find or even prosecute the scammers, especially when many of them are out of the country.

“We have to rely on the federal government to help us, such as the FBI,” said Sheriff Rivera. “But the FBI will only takes cases that are very large cases or large dollar amounts, so these smaller cases, we do work them, but trying to get prosecution on somebody that’s out of the country is extremely difficult.”

Sheriff Rivera said arrests have been made in past scams, but trying to solve them all is tough.

“It is difficult because local enforcement, we don’t have the resources to go outside of our jurisdiction,” she said.

There have also been scams involving Medicaid, Social Security, and even some that claim to be cures for COVID-19.

Officials with Salt Lake County Aging and Adult Services said there are five things to never share with a caller:

  1. Your social security number
  2. Your credit card information
  3. Personal identifying information like your birth date or maiden name
  4. Your banking information
  5. Passwords

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Scammers More Active During Holiday Season; Experts Warn Senior Citizens