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Beware Of The Latest Scams

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Now among rising concerns brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic are new and present threats to people’s financial security. As millions have lost their footing during the pandemic, we’re witnessing another wave and strain of scammers who are using this time of uncertainty as an opportunity to take advantage of and victimize individuals.

Today, Catherine Collinson, CEO and president of nonprofit Transamerica Institute®, is with us to talk about the latest ploys and lend us some advice on how to avoid them.

So Catherine, what are some of the new tactics our listeners need to be aware of?

Catherine Collinson:

Over the course of the pandemic, we’ve seen scammers pose as anything from contact tracers and government officials, to vaccine clinics. But scam artists have reached a new low recently, by targeting those who have lost loved ones due to COVID-19.

Scammers are claiming to be FEMA employees in phone calls, texts, and emails, offering to register people for assistance programs that help pay for funeral expenses. Now, there is a real government relief program that went into effect in April of this year, which helps cover funeral expenses for COVID-related deaths up to $9,000. You can apply for those benefits by contacting FEMA—but they will not contact you first.

If you have not applied for this program and someone contacts you asking you to pay or provide any of your personal or financial information, it is a scam.

Al Waller:

Catherine, this kind of reprehensible activity has been a recurring issue for way too long of a time.

And then along comes this pandemic, which only further propelles the number and nature of scam artists and regrettably targets older individuals who tend to be particularly vulnerable.

Catherine Collinson:

You are correct. Older adults, especially those who live alone, are often considered easy targets by scammers. The first step to prevent yourself or a loved one from falling prey is knowing what’s out there. This is an area where families can really help out—by having conversations to raise awareness among family members. Especially if you know someone who is getting older, advise them to be on the lookout and to implement safeguards.

Al Waller:

It goes without saying, one of the most important ways to protect yourself is to avoid sharing personally & identifiable information. Hopefully we’ve learned by now to avoid answering calls from unknown sources and opening suspicious emails.

So, if you’ve been contacted by a party that sounds like it may be legitimate but feels dubious – err on the side of caution and find an alternative way to validate it before responding to it. Any final thoughts before we wrap things up?

Catherine Collinson: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau‘s website offers great resources. They provide details about the latest scams and show you how to recognize them. It’s important to know what the red flags look like, so you can avoid them. Alert your loved ones who may not have access to this information.

Al Waller

Sage perspectives as always from Catherine Collinsen and thanks again for joining us today. That’s all we have time for here on ClearPath – Your Roadmap to Health and Wealth.

This is Al Waller on WYPR, your NPR news station.

Clearpath is paid for by the Transamerica Institute.

Al Waller is a long time native of the Baltimore area. He entered the field of Human Resources Management starting as an HR Generalist with PwC (Pricewaterhouse-Coopers). This marked the beginning of a 30 year career that advanced into the management level for locally and globally based corporations. His primary area of expertise has focused on but not limited to: Talent Acquisition /Retention, Employee Relations as well as Training & Development.
Catherine Collinson serves as President of the Transamerica Institute and Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, and is a retirement and market trends expert and champion for Americans who are at risk for not achieving a financially secure retirement. Catherine oversees all research and outreach initiatives, including the Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey.