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Hey there listeners. It’s Brett Molina. Welcome back to Talking Tech. It’s the holiday season. You probably have already started shopping early. It also means the scammers are on top of this too. They’re everywhere it feels like. I can’t think of a day where I haven’t gotten an email or a text message or a phone call that is from someone trying to scam me out of money, whether it’s for a warranty on my car, something else, those scary, urgent emails that you get sent that make it sound like it’s so serious and it turns out that it’s just another way to try to extract money from you. My colleague, Jennifer Jolly, writes about this in a column that you can read on tech.USAtoday.com. It’s called Expect More Online Scams During The Holidays. Here’s how to spot them before it’s too late. We’ll talk about a couple of these here.
Let’s start with some of the numbers though. This study really jumped out to me. A new AARP cyber crime study. It estimates that 229 million adults in the U.S. experienced an attempted fraud in 2020. That’s nine out of 10 people. So that’s an incredible amount that have been targeted or had this experience, someone trying to defraud them. So what are a couple things that you can do to keep an eye out, whether it’s an email, text, whatever, and just be mindful? So Jennifer rolls through a couple of tips that you can follow. I’ll explain a couple here.
The first sign that you should watch for is when the message asks you to pay in gift cards. That is almost immediately a scam. Jennifer cites the case of an 80 year old woman who lost $13,000 and was hit by this scam. And it was the same thing where they ask for gift cards and that’s how they want you to pay. If anyone is asking you to pay for something through gift cards, that is an immediate hang up the phone, delete the email, just walk away.
Another sign to look out for are those urgent messages that demand you do something right away. Maybe it looks like a bill, it’s from an agency. They’re saying there’s a warrant out or something and you have to pay this bill right now. And of course it’s to scare you, to intimidate and the immediacy of it, it just, you get anxious and you think, “Oh no, I need to act on this right now.” The best thing to do again, take a deep breath, take a step back and review those things.
Another tip to consider as well is think about where the email’s coming from. If it looks like a really weird email address and it’s not from the official place, that’s something to look out for as well. If you see that message from an agency, for example, get ahold of the agency separately and try to find that info. Don’t go through the email. Go to their website, find an official channel to contact those folks and get more information. That way you can protect yourself and you can have a happy holiday without any of the drama involved in getting scammed.
Listeners let’s hear from you. Do you have any comments, questions, or show ideas? Have you fallen victim to an online scam? What are some tips that you would advise others to take into account? Let me know on Twitter. I’m @BrettMolina23. Please don’t forget to subscribe and rate us or leave a review on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, anywhere you get your podcast. You’ve been listening to Talking Tech. We’ll be back tomorrow with another quick hit from the world of tech.