November 22, 2019

Scams are the one thing on your holiday list that you don’t want

Marian Liu Marian Liu, an assistant professor at Purdue University’s School of Nursing who studies exploitation of older adults. (Purdue University photo)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Black Friday and Cyber Monday may be the two best-known shopping dates on the calendar, but there will be plenty of opportunities to be scammed throughout the upcoming holiday season.

A Purdue University researcher who studies exploitation of older adults says there are numerous ways to keep you and your family safe from scams.

Be alert on online shopping and last-minute delivery arrangements, said Marian Liu, assistant professor of nursing in Purdue’s School of Nursing.

“Scammers can send emails on issues regarding payment or shipping,” Liu said. “When we are busy with the holiday activities, we may not pay attention and accidently click on a phishing link.”

Liu said it is important to double-check any emails or the spelling of website addresses.

“If a seller does not provide information about privacy of the website, or payment methods are not secure, avoid that site,” Liu said. “The newest form of this type of scam involves setting up fake online stores on social media or having links to the fake store. If it looks like too good of a deal, double check.”

Charity scams also increase during the holidays. Liu advises to stick with donating to charities that you have previously donated to or have researched thoroughly.

“The scary part is that once you make a donation, you make it to the scammer’s ‘sucker list.’ They will come back for more money, often under the guise of a different charity,” Liu said. “Older adults with cognitive impairment fall for this type of scam frequently because they do not remember making a previous donation.”

And when you go to pay for an online purchase or make a donation with your credit or debit card, always be careful, she says.

“Do not use auto-fill or save options when purchasing an item while using public computers,” Liu said. “Err on the side of caution. Even if password and credit card information is saved on a personal computer, unsecured wi-fi would still allow hackers the opportunity to steal or use the personal information.”

Writer: Matthew Oates, 765-496-2571, oatesw@purdue.edu, @mo_oates 

Source: Pi-Ju (Marian) Liu, 765-496-0615, marianliu@purdue.edu

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