The holidays are a time for fellowship and thanksgiving, when families crowd around a well-worn table to share meals and stories. For many, these celebrations are punctuated by memories of grandparents who are excited to see all their loved ones in the same place at the same time.
Then the pandemic hit.
While the country slowly returns to some version of normal, the virus has stilled forced families across the country to substitute video conferences and phone calls for in-person events. Making a bad situation worse, criminals generally ramp up their phishing scams this time of year.
The Federal Trade Commission has five tips for avoiding phishing calls.
Even before the pandemic, phishing scams were a significant threat at this time of year—especially to those who require caregivers. That’s why it’s more important than ever that we take steps to protect them from the flurry of winter phishing scams.
Luckily, you don’t have to figure this out on your own.
The Federal Trade Commission recently released a blog outlining five tips that you can share with loved ones as part of their National Family Caregivers Month campaign:
- Look into call-blocking. There are technologies and devices that can stop a lot of scam calls and illegal robocalls before they reach you. Cell phones, home phones that make calls over the internet (VoIP), and landlines each have their own call-blocking options. Just know that call-blocking services could block some legitimate calls.
- Sign up for the National Do Not Call registry to stop calls from real companies. But know that the registry can’t stop calls from scammers.
- If you answer one of these calls, hang up. If possible, tell the person you’re caring for to do the same. If the call is a robocall, don’t press any numbers or it could lead to more calls.
- Warn your loved one about scams. If possible, talk to the person you care for about different types of scams that can happen over the phone.
- Know when to report identity theft. If you find out the person you’re caring for gave their personal information to a scammer, go to IdentityTheft.gov to report it and find out what you can do next.
The agency notes that these tips can help your family members “spot and block scam calls” by learning to identify when a caller is impersonating “the government, a grandchild, tech support, or a potential love interest.”
The FTC also included links to other online resources that address “unwanted calls” and “scams targeting older people:”