How To Stay Safe As Theft, Fraud Skyrocket During The Pandemic

Apr 22, 2021, 1:25 PM | Updated: 1:27 pm

HEBER CITY, Utah – Theft and fraud have skyrocketed in Utah during the pandemic, and experts said it’s more important than ever to be vigilant.

Stability and longevity have smiled on Phyllis Parcell. “I’ve lived in Heber City all my life. In just a month. I’ll be 97,” she said.

Parcell is a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. “I send everybody a card, a birthday card on their birthday,” she said. “It’s a good thing I got a calendar.”

Parcell found a bike online that seemed like a steal.

Phyllis Parcell is a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. (Parcell family)

“Yeah, it was the best deal I’d seen for a while,” she said. “Yeah, I was quite excited.”

But her daughter Jill Duke, AARP community outreach director, noticed something was suspicious.

“It said, ‘It’s much better if you pay with a check,’” Duke said. “They said, ‘Just put in all your routing number from your check.’”

It was information that would give scammers direct access to her funds.

“Probably not just her checking, but her savings and lots of other stuff,” Duke said.

It was a real concern given that in Utah, identity theft increased 99% over the last year. At the same time, online shopping fraud rose by 97%, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

But seniors have a built-in advantage: experience. Knowing if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

“It really is as simple as kind of three big steps,” said Daniel O’Bannon, director of the Utah Division of Consumer Protection. He recommends knowing the scammer’s playbook.

The first tool they use is “Pose and Pretend.”

“Scammers are going to pretend like somebody you know and trust: like the government, like the power company, like the sheriff,” O’Bannon said.

Next — “Problems and Prizes.”

“You’ve won the lottery, you just need to pay a little bit of money. Or, there’s a real problem here: you haven’t paid your bill,” O’Bannon said.

All leading to the “Pressure to Pay.”

“They want you to pay money, they want you to pay it now, and they usually want you to pay it using a prepaid gift card,” O’Bannon said.

These plays all fall apart when you stop and think.

“Hitting pause is like when Rudy Gobert swats a shot and it goes flying into the stands. It pushes the scam away and gives you a chance to say, ‘Wait a second.'”

Luckily, Parcell did just that and went with a different bike.

“Looks kind of cute going down the street,” she said.

She couldn’t be happier with her purchase. “Blue is my favorite color,” she said. “So this is perfect and it just fits.”

Experts also recommend keeping a close eye on your finances. Investigate any unknown charges, even small amounts.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Positively 50+

Filing your taxes can be time consuming, and costly. But, AARP Tax Aides offer the free help of tra...
Ayanna Likens

If you need help filing your taxes, there is a free local resource near you

It's tax season, and if you need help filing your taxes, there is now a free and local resource to help.
21 days ago
Rose is holding a basket of crochet creations in front of a childrens hospital....
Ayanna Likens

Why staying independent is important to the health and well-being of seniors

Independence is important to the physical and mental well-being of every person, none more so than seniors. Here is some tips and tricks to help give seniors an independent life.
1 month ago
Ayanna Likens

New class helps seniors improve their balance

According to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of injury and death among adults 65 and older. But they do not have be an inevitable part of aging, which is why the Draper Senior Center is now offering a Tai Chi class.
2 months ago
Ayanna Likens

Volunteers helping homebound seniors feel a little less lonely this holiday season

The most wonderful time of year can also be the loneliest time of year for those that don't have any family close by. But AARP volunteers are helping them feel a little less lonely.
4 months ago
Medicare open enrollment is now open until December 7th and there is help out there if you are look...
Ayanna Likens

Wanting to change your Medicare plan? There’s help out there

Choosing a health care plan can be overwhelming, especially for older Americans who want to be prepared if their health takes a turn.
4 months ago
The 35th Annual Senior Games take place in St. George through October 15....
Ayanna Likens

Thousands competing in 35th annual Huntsman World Senior Games in St. George

Seniors from all over the world have traveled to Southern Utah to play in the 35thannual Huntsman Senior Games.
6 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Stack of old laptops with dark background...
PC Laptops

Old Laptop Upgrades You Need to Try Before Throwing it Away

Get the most out of your investment. Try these old laptop upgrades before throwing it out to keep it running fast and efficient.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Close up of an offset printing machine during production...
Les Olson IT

Top 7 Reasons to Add a Production Printer to Your Business

Learn about the different digital production printers and how they can help your company save time and money.
vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
How To Stay Safe As Theft, Fraud Skyrocket During The Pandemic