October 24, 2019

The holidays are ripe for special family moments and horrible financial scams

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. — With the holidays just around the corner, people will be inundated with holiday emails, mail and deliveries. And scammers will be hyperactive.

Scammers will target unsuspecting victims with similar-looking mailings, as well as fake emails and websites, says a Purdue University researcher who studies exploitation of older adults.

Online shopping and last-minute delivery can be ripe for scams, 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 website addresses.

 “Always check to see if the site is secure or if they have misspelled names in their web address,” she said.

Charity scams through the mail, phone calls, emails or social media also increase during the holidays. Liu advises to stick with donating to charities that you have either 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.”

Scammers now set up fraudulent travel websites that help arrange fake flights or accommodations.

“Even when doing a transaction with reputable travel websites, always follow their policies and don’t pay hosts extra money,” Liu said. “The old line of, ‘If it looks too good to be true, it is,’ applies.” 

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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