Navigating Holiday Scams: A Guide to Staying Secure Online

With the evolution of technology, scammers’ tactics also progress, especially during the holiday season when online activities surge, charitable giving peaks, and there’s an increase in calls from family and friends looking to connect.  While scams can target anyone, older adults tend to be more vulnerable.  A recent incident involving Philadelphia attorney Gary Schildhorn sheds light on the sophisticated methods scammers are now using.

In a video testimony before a Senate panel, Schildhorn recounted an attempted scam where his son’s voice was expertly impersonated using artificial intelligence. The caller claimed to be in legal trouble after a car accident and requested money for bail. The scammer even called back as his son’s attorney and even provided a case number and courthouse details, demonstrating the increasing sophistication of modern scams.

 

Despite Schildhorn’s experience with consumer fraud cases, he almost fell victim. This incident highlights the increasing prevalence of scams that cost older adults billions annually, with scammers now incorporating AI to enhance the sophistication of their schemes.

Let’s rally to keep our older loved ones vigilant against these scammers this season.

Here Are Some Tips for a Smarter Scam-Free Holiday:
  • Stay Informed: The best defense is a good offense. Stay informed and aware of the latest scams like the one that targeted Mr. Schildhorn, and share that knowledge with family and friends.
  • Screen Calls: If you don’t recognize the number, let it go to voicemail.
  • Use a Spam Filter: Consider using a spam-busting app to filter out nonsense calls.
  • Verify with Family: If you get any calls regarding family members in distress, verify with other family members, even if they advise you otherwise.
  • Navigate with Care: Avoid clicking links or opening attachments from unfamiliar sources.
  • Download Mindfully: Refrain from downloading apps, coupons, videos, games, photos, or files from unknown sources.
  • Guard Personal Info: Only share personal details with those you trust.
  • Shop Securely Online: Exercise caution when shopping online, especially during the holiday season. Avoid clicking on receipts or links from stores you don’t know.
  • Bank Statements: Regularly check bank statements to ensure all transactions are familiar, especially amid the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping. And report any suspicious activity to your bank right away.
  • Investigate Charities: Before penning that check, ensure the charities you contribute to are authentic. Never succumb to pressure to donate money to individuals at your door. Any credible charity will welcome your initiative to verify their details before donating.

Equipped with this knowledge and implementing these strategies, you can protect yourself against scams that tend to spike during the holidays. At The Smarter Service, our dedicated tech concierges are committed to your safety this season. If you need additional guidance or support in securely and confidently navigating the digital landscape, reach out to us at info@TheSmarterService.com

Stay safe and tech-savvy!

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