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+

Ayanna Likens

New bill helps seniors with the rise in property taxes

The rise in property taxes is affecting seniors’ that are on a fixed income, but local lawmakers created a bill to help combat it.
22 days ago
The Jeffs enjoyed traveling the world. Now, their trips are closer to home. (Ken Fall/KSL TV)...
Ken Fall

Brain health: When memory issues should become cause for concern

June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month. While subtle changes in our memory can be a normal sign of aging, some forgetfulness may signal it’s time to visit a doctor. Here’s how to tell the difference.
2 months ago
Dan Spindle and Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

Positively 50+: Refreshing your driving skills, learning new ways to handle Utah’s often difficult traffic

The rules of the road change all the time, as does the technology automakers stuff in our cars. Even our senses and reflexes are not immune from change as we pass the half-century mark. So, for Positively 50+, here's how we can stay on top of our driving game.
3 months ago
At 68, Utah woman Mary Crafts is at her healthiest – and she didn't start her healthy eating jour...
Shara Park & Madison Swenson, KSL TV

Utah woman encourages older adults to cook healthy

By following a few simple tips, older Utahns can learn to cook and eat more nutritiously.
4 months ago
Amanda Lambert started planning early in her career for retirement and has found it’s really payi...
Heather Simonsen, KSL TV

Women trail men in retirement savings, experts say

As more women break barriers in the workplace, there is still one area they fall far behind: saving for retirement. An expert explains how to bridge the gap.
5 months ago
Retiree Sarah Voigt is stretching her fixed income with coupons and sales as inflation soars. (KSL ...
Heather Simonsen, KSL TV

Retirees get creative with budgeting as inflation soars

Record inflation, spikes in gas, groceries, and utility costs are bad news for Utah retirees. A fixed income can make it much harder to cope.
6 months ago

Sponsored Articles

tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
cyber security through multi factor authentication setup...
Les Olson IT

How multi factor authentication setup helps companies stay safe

Multi factor authentication (MFA) setup is an important security measure that every company should implement for their workers. It’s also wise to install it for your personal and home accounts.
Lighting Design

Check out these stunning lamps with stained glass shades

Lamps with stained glass shades are statement pieces that are more than simply aesthetic. They also meet a functional requirement: to light up a room.
Address Bar of internet browser shows internet access...

Utah voters 50+ support increased access to Internet

The AARP surveyed Utah voters aged 50 plus about internet access and if they support the expansion of broadband, especially in rural areas currently lacking it.
How To Stay Safe As Theft, Fraud Skyrocket During The Pandemic